To see a commentary note, click on a blue square. To see the Latin text, click on a green square.
A man does nothing better or wiser than those who have given praise to deserving men. For do not be mindful of what you can accomplish or what your mind suggests, but rather stay fixed upon what you ought to do. Guard against giving the name of just to an unjust man, nor strive to call a just one unjust. Do not prefer the tyrant Phalaris to Zeno, but let each man get the honor he deserves. For he who praises someone unworthy bestows no praise, but rather he gets the ill repute earns. The poet who determines his personal reputation, let him show us what his Muse can achieve. I would not praise either those men, nor those Muses, in my verse who have earned no lauds. But let my voice extol her with supreme praises (if my boyish voice has any weight), she who has never had, does not have, or ever will have an equal, and whose reputation is justified by her deeds. My meters will hymn you, my sovereign, virgin most chaste. Mighty Elizabeth, my meters will hymn you. Sad Lucretia is praised with high honor, but I know you have earned greater praise. Happy was she for having been born of noble parents, but your pedigree makes you half-divine. She was only noble in her breeding, being a sovereign you take precedence over her in your nobility. Roman soil created her, but England can be its match: while bearing a quiver, she fed you her milk. For if Rome could extol the victory-trophies of a Pompey, King Henry is his equal. If Caesar’s noble Rome can name that stout commander, I praise the victories of your father Henry. So let not Lucretia boast of her native land Rome, for your land has borne you as her equal. Chaste matrons schooled her in manners, but learned men have given you an education. She loved distaffs, wool and thread, but you love being steeped in Pallas’ sacred art. The restraints of chaste purity made her praiseworthy, but this virtue makes you divine. She was handsome, but you are more so. She was a soldier of Pallas, but you of God Almighty. And so, o Elizabeth, chaste Lucretia was your inferior on many a score. Hence, most holy sovereign, your arrival is welcome to us. Welcome is your arrival, oh goddess worthy of God.
QUEEN ELIZABETH, THE ENGLISH
The Father of the universe, that Father of heaven on high, will place his His limbs on a safe shore. For whoever places his trust in the Lord on high cannot be shipwrecked on the high seas. I can properly affirm this, you Brutus-born women, for now I am happy, who lately was sad. Behold, now I am a sovereign, though a little while in the past I was caged in a prison. Lo, now I am the head, who lately was a lowly foot. Praise be to the Lord, Who giveth and taketh away. This was not my doing, He brought it to pass.
When God saw His children harried by a a lash, He sent a shepherd for their protection. Thus he sent David and pious Abraham, thus he sent Judith and also sent Gideon, thus he sent Samson and pious Samuel. Thus, most holy sovereign he sent you to us, so that you might be our leader and our loving source of salvation. He protected you, just as you protect us all, He had regard for you, you should see our evils.
Join me in banishing cares from your hearts, my subjects, banish your cares, for piety demands that I govern you. For if virtue and uprightness delight you, every one of you will win rewards for the wretched blows you eve suffered. But if impiety and horrible deeds are your pleasure, each one will receive blows instead of great gifts.
Wherefore we all pour forth thanks to the Lord, for He has made you our mistress.
And I thank you in my turn, because I am deemed a worthy sovereign for this realm. So continue on your righteous path. Be good to yourselves, and I shall always be good to you.
First comes the first letter of Evander, then the beginning of livor (envy), then the start of “satyr” and the first syllable of Beda (Bede).” Then comes the beginning of Thales, and it is followed by the start of “gravity,” then those of “gore” (tabum) and “oar” (remum), the first syllable of “dissent,” which is followed by that of “Titan.” From these you may learn the quality of our royal virgin.
Yield, yield, you powerful cities: Let Cecropian Athens yield to me, and let shining Rome and savage Babylon. Let bright Cnossos yield, together with Paphus, and Achaean Argos, let Nysa and high Cyprus yield, and you, Inachus' Mycenae. Let Thebes yield, although possessed of a hundred gates, and those noble cities of which the cultivated bards sang. For in me remains a gleaming gem, in me there shines a conspicuous emerald, and in me there blazes forth the light of the world, and a prince dwells in my halls. In me there shines a sun of wisdom, in me there gleams a flower, the rose of this age, and in me there flourishes a woman who loves justice and fosters piety.
When truth banishes darkness as renowned wisdom puts fools to rout, when vain things are quite overcome by truths while peace puts a stop to wild warfare, and patriotism does not allow the rebel, and virtue does away with vice by suppression, and evildoers endure their well-deserved punishment, so long, o Britain, your realm endures and your shining scepter peacefully gleams, it lives and shines, your people happy. These things are clearly seen in the kingdom, and so your sovereign blesses you, oh Britons. She blesses you and rules you in peace. So let that crew of Sisters be kindly to you. Oh King Who is all-governing with Your nod, we pray You to let her live as many centuries as does the fleet stag.
Lift up your praises to Him Who dwells in heaven, flourishing England, for that in His mercy he granted us Elizabeth. Let noble incense resound on your smoky altars, ply your harps lest evils assault you in perpetuity. For this ruling woman has been sent by the gleaming stars, and has removed your fearful clouds. No ravening storm will harm an English head as long as you live, you thriving rose of the English. So before that the ship-bearing sea will perish together with the lands, pious honor will bear shameful blots, the hot-blooded lion will shudder at the woolly lamb, and the goat will subdue the flesh-eating foxes.
AN ECLOGUE TO THE QUEEN, A CONSOLATORY ECLOGUE ABOUT HER LOST VICTORY
THE SPEAKERS: ENGLISH SOLDIERS AND THE QUEEN
Let no man be over-trusting in good fortune, nor should defeated captains expect nothing better. For the man whom the dawning light of today sees waxing prideful, tomorrow’s sunset witnesses taking flight. Nobody knows what the savage evening star has to bring, nobody knows what the next hour can offer. He who is now the victor will perhaps depart tomorrow as the vanquished, and he who is now happy can be a wretch tomorrow. Frenchmen, learn to comprehend the present moment, and learn what the coming day can bring. Victory in war hangs in an uncertain balance, its ending is wont to be unsure. So stifle your fierce threats, Frenchman, and for you let it suffice that you came off the winner. We certainly hope that such a thunderbolt awaits you and such a fate, you over-proud Frenchman, a thunderbolt such as the land of Romulus delivered to the conquering Samnite after having been shamefully sent beneath the yoke.
I rejoice that horror does not overcome you, I exult that you have retained your ancient spirits. But now, omitting all else, you must tell me the tale of the Samnites. For I hope that Christ will at length choose to look upon us and bring back the light of day, the clouds dispersed.
If you are so curious to learn how a defeated nation became victorious and how a victorious nation was defeated, although our narrative will be quite long, we shall begin to travel this path you suggest. For the reading of unsullied history is always profitable, if a person well weighs its fruit in his mind. In the city of Rome there once was a sacred custom (as learned Livy's annals teach) that, after the months of a year had expired, to chose to captains who excelled in their strength and their gravity to protect the city with their counsel and their arms, and these were given the title of consuls. And thus Veturius and also Posthumius bore the heavy burden of the consulship. Alas, the disgrace befell the Romans of being bested by the Samnites' treachery and deceit. For after the Samnites had suffered a defeat at the hands of the Romans and their commander Papius had been killed by a wound and by force, clever Pontius sent ambassadors to Rome to arrange a surrender and retrieve their property. When they returned, having struck no pact, great Pontius spoke words such as these: "Thanks to this breaking of a pledge of peace, our embassy serves to placate the gods who were opposed to us. I know full well we could have done no more to appease God or men's hearts. For I have sent back to them their property we had seized as booty, which I know was ours in accordance with the law of war. Since we could not return the men responsible for this war alive, we have sent back dead lest any taint of sin adhere to ourselves, and we have sent their property to these Romans. As Jove is my judge, Roman, what more could I have done for you? Or what manner of pledge do I myself owe you? If these Croesuses refuse to acknowledge us Iros-like folk, let them learn that vengeful gods exist. For the same thing the smaller fly fears from the larger hornet, the yet greater bee threatens to it. b He fights piously who is compelled to draw his sword. This, Samnites, I truly know. We fought our earlier battles with the gods opposed to us, but our future ones will be waged with God on our side.”
Having prophesied this thing, no less happy than well-omened, he led out his entire army into handsome meadows. Soon he secretly pitched camp at the Caudine Forks and set an ambuscade in this manner. He costumed ten recruits as shepherds, and entrust them the flock of his fellow citizens, bidding them graze the sheep where the Romans had encamped. And he bade all of them tell the same story when they had fallen into the predatory Romans’ hands. And a rumor had already come to the Romans splendid camp that the deceitful Samnites were in the territory of Apulia and that the citizens of Lucera were beset by a siege. And it was principally the fact that the previously captured shepherds all told the same story that enhanced the credit of this tale. Their Roman allies had no hesitation in wishing to bring aid to the men of Lucera. But they entertained great doubt about what route to take, here they paused, here they long maintained their silence. The road to Lucera divided into two directions: the first was wide-open, the second passed through a narrow space, but at some points (being friendly, just as many other places) nature displayed her art. There there were two wooded passes set amidst many mountains, and set in between them lay a grassy field, wide and well-watered. But to reach this grassy field first you had to pass throw many a narrow space. And to retire from it either you had to travel back the way you had gained entry or make your exit by means of a pass even more tight and difficult, if so you desire to go.
When the Romans had arrived here, they found they had been entrapped by their enemy's deceit and wiles. Soon their minds were seized by bitter grief, and an unwonted torpor gripped their hearts. They were surrounded on all sides and could not retreat. Alas, a thick forest hemmed them in on one side and their enemy on the other, blocking the way they had previously granted them. One man stared at another in the face, hoping for his friend the help he himself was unable to offer. The Roman legion begged its tribune for aid, and the tribune begged it from the praetor. The praetor begged his quaestor for it, and the quaestor asked the same from the consul himself. Thus every man would have been happy to have the wound healed by a comrade, being unable to fend off his own reverses. The Samnites filled the air with their great shouting, regarding Jove as their patron, and Pontius himself had no idea what to do, being beside himself with joy. Then, since savage Pontius had a father worn out with years and slowed by prolonged old age, he sent him messengers asking what was the first thing he should do concerning his own affairs. And although that old man was slow, the strength of intelligence and counsel endured in his worn-out body. After he had learned that the Romans were penned up within the Caudine Forks thanks to the roughness of the terrain, he advised that they should be returned unharmed to the lofty walls of their Roman homeland. But the foolish son was displeased by his father's opinion and made the embassy return to him. When the father perceived his son was asking for his view once more, he recommended the Romans should all be punished by death. When the keen lad heard these two responses, differing and given in a dissimilar vein, he opined that his father's mind had grown ancient along with his body.
Nevertheless, overcome by everyone's unanimous opinion, he summoned his father to appear at his camp without delay. And lo, the ancient old man Herennius (for such Livy tells us was his name) appeared, borne on a wagon to the Samnites' proud camp. And then he is reputed to have stated that he refused to change a word of his previous responses, either the one or the other. When his son asked "Does anything prevent us from taking a middle course, I mean that they be sent home unharmed but in such a way that the rights of war are imposed on the vanquished, the old man responded: "This policy does nothing to nurture friendships or dispel the dire venoms of foul hatred. That Roman race is one which does not know how to hold its peace when defeated. My son, you must always keep an eye on those captains you have provoked, for I know they would wish to repay tit with tat." Since neither of his recommendations pleased them, the ancient old man took leave of their proud camp. But now a dearth of supplies bedeviled the Romans and added new lamentations to the ones they already had. The sent ambassadors first requesting fair terms for a just peace. Failing that, they should obtain a truce such as would permit them to fight on equal terms.
But Pontius' response was that the battle had already been fought and he proclaimed that they were bested by his strength. And, since they were conquered but did not know how to admit their lot, he intended to send them beneath the savage yoke. And when the ambassadors pressed him, he said he was prepared to enter either into a friendly peace or a cruel war. ”In the future everything shall be conducted on equal terms between the victor and the vanquished, but first I shall send you beneath the savage yoke. Depart our Samnite territory, Let the Samnites live alongside you on equal terms, according to their own customs. If these terms for a peace are agreeable to you, I will enter into a pact of peace with you. If not, do not return to me, I shall make no treaty with you.” When the young Roman men had heard his response, they were saddened and grieved as never before. Alas, such sorrow broke out and such anguish that they all wished they could die. After they had long been silent Lucius Lentulus, hovering between hope and fear, thus spoke up.
“Oh friends, I have very often heard my beloved father saying that he was the single man who refused to support the idea of ransoming our city from the faithless Gauls, when it was all but taken by a savage siege. Surely it is a fine thing to fall in death for one’s country, and surely it is noble to die so it may be safe. And I pledge my life for my dear homeland. To make my reputation the equal of my ancestors, I am willing to go out alone and confront our enemies, my desire is to cast myself into their midst. But here I see my nation, these eyes of mine, alas, are beholding whatever exists of our Roman legions. And, unless they suffer the darts of death for their own sakes, to preserve their honor, what do they possess which they might protect by their death? Somebody might say the city's walls and its buildings, and the sturdy edifices belonging to the Capitoline. In truth, an even more wretched catastrophe threatens everything if this our army chances to be destroyed. For who could protect them? In truth a sickly, feeble, weakened, decrepit and shattered small band of men. We save our nation by protecting these legions, but alas, we betray it by surrendering to death. Ignominious surrender is always a foul thing, and disgrace is more shameful than a savage death. But our love for our nation is such that we would preserve it at the cost of our shame, if needs be, rather than our death. So it is necessary for us to submit, let us submit with brave hearts. Go, consul, and ransom your nations by surrendering your brave weapons, just as once your forefathers ransomed it by paying their gold.
When Lucius Lentulus had said these few words he took his seat, and shut his mouth. The consul went to Herennius' proud camp, to see if he could enter into a sacred pact of peace. But Herennius said that he was rather going to send them beneath the yoke, making the Romans a laughingstock for his own men. So the consul returned to camp with peace unachieved, and ruefully remembered this crime he had committed. In the camp, his arrival renewed the grieving, giving them new reasons for sadness. They exclaimed they had been cast into a pit like so many wild beasts, and lamented that they had nobody to guide their way. And they said that it was a great cause for pain that they had departed in a more squalid condition than they had arrived. They said that soon they would have to hand their weaponry over to their enemies and that their hands were to be despoiled of their shining swords. Before their eyes was the enemy yoke and the victors’ proud faces, whereas the conquered wore sadness on theirs. In their minds they kept imagining their disgraced and sickened column making its way through allied cities. They often recollected what they were now and what they had been, and how their unarmed enemy had marched through their well-armed selves. The grieved that they alone had been defeated with no steel and no wounding and could not avenge themselves on their enemy. They lamented that they had not been allowed to draw their swords and come to blows. They said that arms and strength had been given them to no good purpose, and (alas!) their chagrin grew all the greater. But while they wept, grieved, beat their breasts with their hands, at the same time cursing those unspeakable wars, the fatal hour of their bitter humiliation was at hand, and, alas, summoned the Romans to the savage yoke. First they were all commanded to come out from their ramparts unarmed, and they went to meet their ruination. And then the commanders of this army were sent beneath the yoke, all but naked, as many a written account relates. And then, in the order of his noble rank, each man endured the savage stings of disgrace. Their mouths kept silences, their expressions were blank, but they were eloquent in their minds, not speaking a word as they trudged along. Every man kept his saddened eyes fixed on the ground, there was no light within them. They made not a murmur as a sign of their future grief, but managed to give many a sign of their anger. Thus in the end they were all sent beneath the savage yoke, and this — which far more tormented them — in the sight of their enemy.
When they had gotten out of the forest and entered into many trackless wastes, oh, it was with ignominy reproachful and shameful that they came to the high walls of their city. But (oh bright virgin), we are failing to mention one single thing which we certainly should have described already.
This history is fine and useful in many a way. For it renews the hope of our defeated captains. So tell me the thing you have omitted to say, and thus your course will be ended.
After the Romans had been sent beneath the yoke, we have told in our verses that they held their silence. Afterwards the Samnite nobles came together and formed an opinion why they had done so. It is that a certain man with the name of Ossilius, a man mighty for his holy virtue and his nobility, said that those ears, deaf to all consolation, and those eyes fixed on the ground were indications of a great mass of wrath fermenting deep within their great minds. And he added that he either did not understand the Roman character or that a great evil awaited the Samnites. For after Rome’s lofty youths had recovered themselves, and when they had likewise regained their strength, they would wage war on the victorious Samnites and become a weight weighing down their proud necks. When Pontius, just now a commander who had shown himself merciless towards their helpless commanders, himself became a commander suffering a deadly blow at their hands, the rest of the Samnites were defeated, slaughtered and put to rout, he who had lately been the captive became the captor, and those who were not destined to perish became the possession of a prison cell equipped with chains. The sons of Romulus brought them all to Rome, and exercised the rights of war upon them.
“Now, greatest sovereign, you have heard the conclusion of this history, we are about at the end of our road. Now, most holy maiden, compare our situation with that of the Romans, and it will be seen to be its equal. Then compare us British to the Romans, and your Briton will match the Romans. Compare Lord Dudley himself to Veturius, and he will to be Veturius-like. On the other hand, compare the deceitful French to the Samnites themselves, and your Frenchman will look Samniam. Compare French deceit with the Samnites’ and French deceit will appear to be similar. Therefore God grant that an Englishman can become a pious Roman and your Frenchman can be a Samnite.
And so God grant that that conquering nation goes off the conquered, and that the conquered one can prove victorious, should it so choose.
So that God might allow this, let brilliant England humbly pronounce its amen.
Constantly live so that death brings profit with its swift arrows and that Christ Almighty may grant you to live on Olympus. Live so that that you may survive at the tribunal of the Ruler of Heaven, shining thereafter as a member of the starry throng. But first you must live: you should live here for long and excellent times, but such that terrible death will turn you a profit.
Close, now, you Muses, the mouths of Parnassus’ streams, now our barque catches sight of land and its shore. Close your little fountains, close the gates of Helicon, now we’ve had enough and more than enough. Close them, do not assault our sovereign’s ears, there’s nothing worse than long-windedness. Close them, we need not always keep vigil for our studies, nurturing rest is a solicitous companion for our cares. But hey, hey, regain bulittle boy, give an ear to what I say, mark my words carefully and, when everything is provided you, do not fancy that you are failing yourself. Comport yourself so that you may add glory to our company, happiness to your tutor, and profit to yourself.
X. AN ECLOGUE ON THE DEATH OF BONNER
Now the scythe-bearing reaper had replenished his barns, which the previous years eating had emptied, and had forced Ceres, whom he had captured by his hand, into bondage, after he had made a slaughter of the weak cornstalks, when poor Thestilus, the keeper of his tiny flock, both mindful of dinner and foresightful for his hungry mouth, sat down by the currents of a nearby stream, alone. He had a cane in his hand, and the cane was armed with a hook, and his light string drooped with its affixed cork. Only his bitch kept her master company, while round about his unfed heifers happily cropped the fields, and his silent flute hung from branches hard by. Then, plotting murder for fish, he cast his hooks and watched for movement with a keen eye, when Palaemon, happening along, caught sight him intent on this, and greeted the startled fellow with a quick word. He, when he had looked around and recognized the face of his friend, said,
What are you doing in my fields, dear Palaemon? Are you here by yourself? Or are your sheep and comrades following you?
I do not come as a guest bent on staying in your fields, Thestilus, nor on whiling away my empty time. For my sheep are at home, and my own dearer Aegle is expecting my steps at nightfall. But I come here, nearly exhausted, hastening from the city the ancients named Troynovant, but whose citizens now call by the name of London, which the noble Thames, fairest among English rivers, enriches, washing it with its tidal waters.
And do you chance to have something welcome for its novelty, Palaemon?
I do not know what wars the French King or Germany are waging, nor what quiver-bearing nations the Turk is bringing all those miles as he lies by the famed walls of Malta, or the news the timid merchant brings back from the Indies. I know of other things (but have no concern for other things) upon which the ambitious ear of great men feeds, but I know things which can be welcome to shepherds, Thestilus, and which will sweetly delight your ears.
Pray speak, nor let the rest of your journey make you begrudge my ears. Thus fair Phyllis and Aegle will plant many a kiss on your lips when you betake your steps homeward late in the friendly evening, sweetly embracing your neck with their arms. The one will affectionately call you her father, the other her husband.
I shall explain, though delay impedes those in a hurry. Today, when I retraced my steps from the city, when Phoebus first raised his fires for the earth, my acquaintance Myntius ran into me, who travelled from the city in the direction of the noontime sun, and where fierce George defends a temple familiar to you. Here, when he saw me trying to evade him with quick strides, “Hey,” he said, “Your fields grow green in safety, nor do your cattle stray through neglected grass, or are your sheep fretful with leaf.” Here I said, “What new cause for rejoicing arises?” “Do you see,” he asked (pointing with his finger) “this tomb visible among the thorns, where the earth, once fertile, is now uncouth with an untended lawn and rises up, adorning itself with grass. Here lies that fierce predator of your flock, whose greed no pasture was able to sate with its lands, not the very mountains or the cities. Behold (for, always feeding himself on fresh blood, he grew to an enormous weight, his body bloated) what a great thing this hollowed-out earth contains.
Has that wolf, the like of which no century has borne, died, once (ah) the ravager of my flocks? And am I to think youve told me the truth, Palaemon? Now crop the grass in safety, crop the flowers, my woolly sheep. Now the heat will not scorch you, nor the violence of the winter sky do you harm. O what slaughter he once inflicted on miserable shepherds! O how often he sacrificed tender lambs and their mothers on his bloody altars! Indeed, though lately kept safe in prison, what great murders he hatched in his untamed heart, if ever he got free power over his life!
Thus too the horrid snake hisses as it dies. Thus too the steed accustomed to war and arms, though worn out by age and years, yet rages with its mouth, monstrously neighing, and, rearing, paws the ground with a feeble foot. But I am not very surprised that he could work harm or once more mangle British flocks (for you couldnt see a crueller monster, whether you widely roamed Ethiopias deserts, or the forests of the Nomads and the inhospitable badlands of Molossa). But I wonder that this island, after rejecting those beasts, a land hostile to carnivorous wolves, nevertheless produced this man, than whom nobody more violent inhabits the glades and high ridges of distant Pachnus.
When I was seeking the secret reasons in my breast, this thing began to seem strange to me too, until this better thought came to mind, that he did not grow British-born, but had come here born far way in warmer regions, where the greasy Tiber laps Italian walls. For here his father was never known, nor did he ever boast of being born of woman. But, I know not how, many say he was born of a savage, nor did any woman boast of his birth, and this thought is not hard for my mind to digest, for the name Savage smacks of brutality. Nevertheless, whatever father he had, he was born unlucky for us shepherds. For I imagine that at that time horrid Saturn, reconciled to no star, shone in the heaven. For I recall (and it is very necessary to recall) that that golden boy wielded held the scepter. When that golden boy, Alcis imitator, held the realms scepter, he emulated Alcis brave deeds, smote the threefold snake in our fields, so that he was gentler, held for the first time pent up in a prison. But when he bequeathed the realm to his inferior sister, this man invaded our island once more, and furiously enmeshed himself in our fields, more savage than untamed tigers or a pregnant bear which a hunter has long ensnared with rope and skill, until, gradually breaking her bonds, she rejoices and, bounding, ravages the bountiful greenwoods, or as the summer heat is borne aloft, the earth broken, and its heat cleaves the air in its onrush, and there it hangs, swelling into a dark grey cloud, until it gradually becomes impatient of its imprisonment, deeply bellows, and, shifting place, moves into the open space. Then indeed it wearies heaven with its terrible noise, and the Earth herself, terrified by its horrific roaring, falls mute, the cattle mutter, as do the painted birds, and the fearful lamb huddles against its mothers side. Not otherwise, the rein on him broken, he rushed forward, more savage than the fire-breathing bulls with Pagasus’ Jason tamed on the banks of the Phasis. Thus, made more savage by its wounding, by the very injuries it received, the dire beast of poisonous Lerna did increase. Then indeed you could see the shepherds running across the sea, their flocks abandoned, or fearfully concealing themselves in the thick forest, astonished by the sudden terror of so great a monster. Nor did he merely soak himself in the warm blood of the sheep, or rapaciously despoil the poor sheepfold, but even worked murder against the keepers themselves. Then indeed, I recall, Myrtilus and Celadon died, their blood spilt, those hearts so dear to me, while they defended the wounded and fearful sheepfold. Live, you happy souls, now the stars and the lofty realms of the sky are trodden beneath your feet. I shall nevermore see you entertaining your sheep under a green bough, and reciting your welcome songs. And also two friends of mine, Lycorus and Molus, both distinguished with their reed. The one governed the fields where old Canterbury raises its decayed walls, the other fed his flock by the watery waves of the Thames. In those days, no sad cattle came to drink, nor tasted of the happy grass. They say the forests, the waters of the sea, and the Nereids in their glassy waters wept for them. Thames himself, muddy with his swamps and wearing mourning weeds, wept, swelling his stream with his tears, and roiled his hateful waters, Thames who fathers the shrill swans. Then too, as they report, Vulcan, obliged to endure so many deaths, came to loathe his own fires. But I, fleeing then to a nearby shore, the Westerlies blowing with a will, arrived there where the Seine divides the fields of the Gauls from the Belgae. Yet how often I bade the East wind, when it directed its wings hither, to visit my home and see if some chanced to survive so great a slaughter. For, though it greatly hindered the shepherds, the foaming boar did not lay such waste to Oeneus fields, that avenger and minister of an angry Diana. For he, until the sun traveled five circuits, plundered and killed the sheep, straggling in feer, and the keepers of the sheep, bent on bloody banquets, until Aegle arrived, that fairest of the Nereids (Aegle, who surpasses the other nymphs in form, as much as Phoebus laurel does the slender tamarisks). And she said, “O restrain the wolf, restrain the onrushing wolf far away.” Her companions attacked him, bound him with chains as he raged, and when he was caught they pent him up in a new prison. Here he has now languished twice five years (for so Aegle ordained) until the Fates, resenting such great delays, of a will snatched him under Styx waters, and God, Who avenges crimes took him off in his late years. But you, you ancient divinities of the shepherds, you Fauns, and Pan, god of sheep, to whom rustic Maenalas is dear, or rather, Palaemon, God, God Whom my pipes will so often hymn, keep off such monsters from our realms.
But now the sun is hastening to bathe his car in the ocean, and a long part of my journey is ahead of me as I travel
So come instead to my house as a guest until the morrows light has blushed its first risings. I have fish Ive just caught in the river, as you see, and fragrant pears newly plucked from their branches, and now evening urges me to lead my sheep under shelter.
AN EPITAPH ON THE DEATH OF BRIDGET BUTTS, THE WIFE OF THOMAS BUTTS, GENT., OF RYXBURGH MAGNA, NORF., WHO DIED JANUARY 24, 1570, THE THIRTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF THE RIGHT EXCELLENT LADY ELIZABETH BY GRACE OF GOD OUR QUEEN
Here is buried Thomas Butts’ most faithful wife, Bridget, once married to that gentleman. Should you ask what she was like when living, learn what manner of woman she was in this life. If you ask about her pedigree, she will be found to have been born of noble blood passed down through countless ancestors. If you inquire what manners her husband could find adorable in her, she was distinguished by faithfulness conjoined with fine probity Her body vied with her mind, her prudence with her beauty, her wit with her good manners, her grace with her gravity. She deserved to live, since piety surpassed all her other traits. She was fit for this world, but fitter yet for God. This is enough, stranger. Depart, and do not put off living: what was her lot today may be yours tomorrow.
BY FLETCHER OF CAMBRIDGE
Buried in this tomb is the wife of Butts, a woman once married to a gentleman. She was distinguished of countenance, flourishing in her piety, modest in her manners, prudent in her wit, and bountiful with her hand. Death envied her and forbade her to exist for long, but in forbidding her to do this he made her what she was all the more. For dying in her body but surviving with her mind, she sleeps in the earth, her reputation preserved intact, but seeks out the stars.
BY FLETCHER OF CAMBRIDGE
Here lies Bridget. After she had been hidden away, Death set this stone for her to bear, but they say that he repented his deed. She had scarce attained her thirty-sixth year, the middle of her life, when she first reclined as a guest in this soil. Her piety, her striving virtue, the many things she had distributed with her bountiful hand, nor that which is the greatest feature of a woman’s endowment sufficed to keep firm the pledges of her lawful wedlock.
BY FLETCHER OF CAMBRIDGE
XIV. AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF THAT RIGHT DISTINGUISHED GENTLEMAN DOMINUS WALTER HADDON, GILES FLETCHER
“Go far away, you Muses. Vanish, you pointless concerns. Farewell, you Greek writings, together with you Latin verses. What’s the point of having led your life amidst the noble arts and with careful effort to serve as your camp-follower? I shall not be a reaper who always despairs over his crops, nor a soldier accustomed to gaining no victory. We all shall go off and lie together beneath a single sun, the Muse will give us no rest to come. Neither is death the slower to wound us because we are unaware, nor does our hour come later since we are wise. Perhaps it will harm us to be excessively brainy, and often possessions in great measure hurt their owner. A warrior presses all the harder against an outstanding enemy, but a pauper possesses no foe. Then too, patience can get the better of a slight loss, but grief is revealed over great ones and shown to exist. Cast in the water, a shipwrecked man scorns the loss of a trifling cargo, but, once he has gained the shore, he is sadder in mourning his great wealth. Thus, since it loses more, noble virtue suffers greater harm, and its very abundance serves to render its wealth harmful.
“And so go away, you books, you silliest of preoccupations, and farewell, my pen and scribbled writings. And farewell to you, the greatest part of my studies, Marcus, you golden glory of the Roman toga, what’s the worth of your words? And farewell to you, you glory of that other language of which the Cecropian fathers tasted. Now the eloquence of your mouths does me no service, or those words you spoke in the energetic courtroom. And adieu to you, whose writings are divided into the same number of Books as the Muses have sacred names, and you most famed writer marked by the praise of the Capitoline, whom the city of Padua bore amidst the Euganean hills. Back then I was minded to count the triumphs of war, if any battles gained triumph by inflicting death. But what does it avail the rest of mankind to have learned things which failed to profit their authors? Farewell, great Stagirite, together with all the honed things the prophetic bees set on your lips. And a final good-bye to you, you sweet poets, you bards of the Iliad and the Aeneid. And you too, you unhappy professor of gentle love, fostering Naso, lend me your hand in parting. Why did you vainly display your tears and your words written in your Tristia? Such sorrow does not lack its tears. Celadon, no more shall I sing of you beneath the shade of your beech tree, or sing of you, Tityrus, alongside tranquil waters. No let no man urge me to sit as a stupid Tityrus amidst my sheep, to bind my brow with laurel, or to weave garlands into my bound locks. What’s the point of having practiced the other arts with my efforts, learning the quarrelsome rules of the mad courtroom, or bearing arms against barbarism and recalcitrant satyr, nor join in as part of the vulgar crew. You were once surpassing in all these things, Haddon, yet your fate did no less to handing you over to the chill earth.”
Tearfully I said these things, I was minded to make a thousand such complaints, my books neglected. But what am I doing? Can I foolishly desert my Muses and my camp without leave of my commander? Ah, I am ashamed, and I recant my utterances and condemned words, and gladly I would hope to become what I was before. Not thus does the ardor of my impassioned heart diminish, nor are things quickly scorned which pleased me so long. What if if the earth is our common tomb, and Fauna shares time equally with the Muses? Toilsome virtue herself pays a reward for her effort, and fights in her own camp. But neither will the urn which confines one’s ashes confine one’s reputation, nor will his genius lie prostrate on cheap soil. Virtue’s glory keeps vigil at the tomb, and those the Fates prevented from living it will not let die. Either old age or marriage was the lot of the other gods, but Pallas, who presided over studies, was unwed. This is not because wisdom is supposed to be pugnacious and consist of battles, wielding savage weapons in its fearsome hand. It is men who bear arms and wield spears tipped with hardened steel, long lances do not suit girlish hands. Thus we are wrong, these were not the weapons of Pallas Rather, for her reams of paper served as a shield, and a pen for a spear. These do a better job of fighting, Death is overcome by these weapons, these are what he dreads, whereas he has no fear of lance-bearing hands. Tell me, you Muses, why it is that hoary old age spares you, and where there is no white in your tresses? Is it because glory always joins itself to virtue as its companion, and no old age subdues genius? Phoebus is said always to have chased after the youth he cultivates, his art does not permit him to grow old. So can I abandon undeserving books and be vigorous in my disdain of a good thing? I cannot. So greetings upon your return, you books, this useful tantrum creates new friendships. Come back, Marcus. You man of Padua, come back, and you, you glory of the Attic tongue to whom Cecropian fathers have been devoted. And you return, you gentleman of Stagira, come back with those honeyed lips given you by prophetic bees. Not thus are we separated (a brief spat makes lovers ardent). Come back, you bards of the Iliad and Aeneid. And, Naso, upon my return extend to me the friendly hand you refused when my brow wore a frown. And you to, you paper bearing the black wounds of the Fates, and you pen, come back as weapons in my service. And forgive me, you friendly Muses, let levity suffice as its own punishment. Now I am ashamed of my impulse, now I swear by the streams of Argolic water that I wholeheartedly repent my deed. What remains, Haddon, is that I say my good-bye. Let us be allowed to live as did yourself when it was permitted you to live sweetly. The sad Naiads mourn you in the waters of the green Cam, and mourn you thus in their waters: “Here he stood, here he studied, as a boy he sported on this turf, a willow-tree listened to his learned voice.” While they recall such things, their sorrow grows as if swollen by rain, they water their faces with uncontrollable tears. In the new springtime they devote to you an altar made of green turf, and lilies mingled with roses, lilies which the Hamadryad feeds with waters from her fountains, and fresh roses which the tall willow makes to grow. Here a mournful swan standing at your funeral rites will sing a dirge for you with its solemn song, and, as if issuing prophecies of its own demise, will produce a thousand songs that wind with varied notes, and that bird of Daulis which laments her Ismarian Itys will make you a part and parcel of her and, though she was once a rival of your voice, shall now pour forth sad strains from her plaintive mouth. And wee to have wept (although it is a foolish kind of piety that weeps for the blessed), yet what’s the purpose of having wept in vain? Such consolations captivate empty-headed commoners, yet lofty virtue is not without tear-stained cheeks.
XV. THE SAME, ON HADDON’S WILLOW
You pliant willow who gives shade to the reapers and stretch your familiar arms over the nearby ground, why, when the ram of Athamas’ daughter Helle is glittering in the springtime, restoring their glory to plants and trees, you yourself (as if you alone refuse to seem handsome) are slow in repairing your few long shoots with frondage)? Am I wrong, or are you touched by Haddon’s sad death, and copy your master’s fate? What are men do to, when piety moves plants and loyalty grows great in the broad fields? Hang me if because of such dutifulness I do not prefer you to the foliage of holy Pallas. But you must live and embody the honor of your deceased master, and possess the enduring glory of that man’s name. The harsh Fates do not forbid you to revive each year, or compel to perish under any other condition. Thus may no harm be done to you by the shepherd who encourages his gamboling lambs by playing on his reed, or the chattering bird who perches in your branches, or the cows grazing beneath your foliage (for huge cattle can do damage), or innocent flocks or long winters. Nor let the reaper chance to wound your trunk when he rests on the ground, having cast aside his sickle. I myself will congratulate you on springtime’s returned splendor when the gentler breeze calls forth new leaves, hang chaplets on the branches I have greeted, and in solemn wise bring you welcome rewards. My poem will be that no bull or passer-by be harmful to you, but rather that your bark go undamaged. Drive off your oxen, Tityrus. This is Haddon’s tree: it has given its alternations of shade, he has given his name.
XVI. THE LAMENTATION OF CLERE HADDON
Should I speak out or bite my tongue? Should I restrain or announce my sorrow? Alas, I myself shall proclaim my woes. Unhappily I mourn the death of my dear father, oh a death deadly to myself and a dark day! That was a dark death and an unhappy hour on which you fled this life without me, dear father. Were you thus abandon everything together with your wretched household? The Sisters were over-hasty in breaking your thread, and black death laid his fatal hands on you. Wicked Death, and you too, you cruel Parcae, who, being goddesses, destroy all of mankind. While the best of things are the first to fall into your greedy clutches, for a long time you allow the worst to thrive. Have not three things had an effect on you nine Sisters, neither prayer, bribery or threats? Why beset us, savage Death? Cease now, cease at length thus cruelly to despoil our house. Could you not have been sated by the death of my kindred? These have been five deaths out of our family. First in your harshness you stole two of my sister. Then, alas, the third demise was that of my mother. The fourth was my brother. Now, death, sheathe your weapons, there is no great glory in the defeat of an old man. But why leave me without a brother, sister or father? Why not, I ask you, destroy our entire family. So was it left for me to destine me alone to such hard circumstances, to survive my entire lost family? To what evils are you reserving me, churlish death? How I would wish to have accompanied my father! But the divine will was not the same as my own, and I hope it will make things turn out better for myself. God exists, as does His care for His servants (I recall my father often telling me so). God willed that he migrate from this earth, a day to which he had long looked forward. Let others praise his other qualities, my father was as indulgent as a pious son could wish. In his lifetime he was blessed, and even more so in death, after death being blessed in two ways: first because He Who saved him by shedding His blood, had regard for him (no happiness is, nor can be, the equal of this), and then because his virtue had acquired him such friends who remembered him after his death and who (a rare thing) out of love for his old father gave help and support to his son, men who are now his fathers and protect him with paternal love — a son to whom you were and always will be divine. Farewell now, father, your son has written these sad verses as your final funeral-honor.
ADONIS, AN ECLOGUE
A COMPLAINT ABOUT THE DEATH OF CLERE HADDON, A YOUING MAN OF HIGH HOPE AND A DEAR FRIEND OF THE POET, WHO DIED BY DROWNING IN CAMBRIDGE’S RIVER, MAY 1570
Lately Lycidas the hunter mourned Adonis, and filled the ponds and streams with his lamentation. For him, seeking its waves and bathing in its current (ah, far from the throng and company of his friends) the cruel torrent snatched off with its winding streams. When Lycidas, reclining on the bank, caught sight of his lamentable corpse, and regarded the stream with a sad countenance (a stream, alas, too well beloved to his tender companion), filled the place with his shouting, set aside the swift arrows and the active bow he bore upon his shoulders, and rebuked the unkind river with words such as these:
“Cease a while your roar, you running waters, while I make my complaint, and while I speak the words which, though they have no avail with you, I nevertheless proclaim from my said mouth. I call on you waves as witnesses, and you streams which cherish the banks, and all you cool streams in deep dales, were you able thus to destroy a lad with a shameful death? Were you unmoved by our love, by any hope for his talent, or glory of his family, nor his comeliness or age, you cruel rivers? Nor by the fact that often, exhausted by the hunt and the heat, in my company he rested along your waters? But what am I doing? The water does not perceive the crime, these great wounds, nor does it repent its deed and its crime. Nor does it care what tears mean, or rejoicings. I bewail you, boy, along the stream of the chill river; for you I will pour forth tears and sighs. Now I rue the greenwoods, now I take no pleasure in fields sweetened by streams, or to bear the javelin and weighty quivers in my hand, nor to enclose my customary mountains in the hunt, or feed my swift hounds. Who will join me in in spreading my nets, in encircling the ridges, the trackless glades with the taut linen, or pluck the long hunting-spears from the tender oak? I was not able even to address you, my most beloved, and add my tears to my final words. Nor, when you departed, happy, did I say ‘turn back, Adonis. Unlucky the glade and the fields that held me in my wandering, you were calling on Bromius and Lycora, directing your final steps along the familiar banks. I would have said Avoid the waters and the dangerous streams. The land lies open for men, the liquid wave for the greedy fish. Rather sit yourself here, lad, where the flowery earth pours forth its riches. Here is Narcissus, and that other one called by your name, rash Adonis, receiving the sad reward for his equally bold attempts, and Clytie, and that boy beloved to Phoebus, once golden of body, now growing as flowers in the turf, and the thriving grass paints itself with purple acanthus. Sporting is safer on the shore, it is ill entrusted to water: on the shore I have often seen hulks and castaway bodies, and sailors swimming on the blue main, and soon bewailing their lost ship on the shore. But the Zephyrs are not yet a-blowing, nor have the rainy constellations yielded the sky, nor are the the sick streams cleansed of their flotsam. Not yet do the happy constellations glitter, those heralds of fair weather. I would have said this, but what good would it have done? You recall with me, you fields, or you can recall, our one-time retreats, and these meadows. Here you hunted the beasts with art, and you were wont to deceive the birds with twigs, you who would have been happy if you had joined me in shunning dangerous streams. But not all of us love the same thing. Happy once were the forests which he cultivated, and lucky the shadows beneath which he rested. Now the boy grew accustomed to bearing the toils of hunters, to harry the frightened beasts, when the daystar gave its risings; and preparing his snares, his twisting horn, and the painted bow (which Amasus owns now), he would go to the hunt, rejoicing, wielding a javelin with his small arm. Now, too, the fleeing deer was sure to be wounded. What would the young man have done, when the boy had wielded such weapons? Now, captivated by your comeliness and your fair appearance, the happy nymphs were looking forward to a sweet wedding. This hope is now fallen, that previous pleasure died along with you, the sad nymphs shun marriage.
“Come back, oh handsome boy, a gentler star will shine for you, nor will the earth and the chill streams harm you now, and greater shadows will fall from the mountains, and a better breeze will welcome you on your return. Come back, oh handsome boy. Why should I say such things in my folly, as if these mortal things concern you? Now, fortunate boy, you will repose above the lofty stars, now you shall ferret out the doubtful causes of things. Happy the day which will see us united in heaven, and will cherish us, held captive in a better place. And it will come, nor, excellent, father, do I predict your time will be long, the earth has already granted you its all. Meanwhile we shall store up everything in our remembering minds. As this stream will dry up, and as as this water will run backwards and with reversed current revisit its original sources, so will Adonis slip from my heart.”
Thus Lycidas spoke, and picking up his quiver and bow, he bound them on. But with tears and sighs his hounds Elpomenas and Talaphron followed him, and, roving over the grass, craved to soften their masters sorrow with their fawning. Thus, weeping, he departed the fields, and sought out the city.
XVIII. AN ANSWER TO THE VERSES OF CLERE HADDON, WHICH HE WROTE ON THE DEATH OF HIS FATHER, SLIGHTLY BEFORE HIS OWN
He who would have preferred to send these words to you alive sends them to you in the Elysian fields, where now you live. Indeed, he wished to send them before, but it is a rare messenger who is wont to go to Elysium. I am held by the neighboring waters of the hateful Cam (alas, a stream well known to you in life). Read them through, meanwhile I shall not disturb your shade with tears, already my cheeks have been watered with tears. I send you no bootless entreaties that you return, your realm is shut to over-late prayers. The songs about your fathers death which I lately saw compel me to indite these words to your shade, because they are yours, because they are pious, because they are learned, because they are your last, Clere, and are wholly approved by my judgment. Of what should I complain? That they did not displease me when I read them? But nothing of yours could displease me. Or rather should I rejoice that your songs pleased me? Yet these very poems that pleased me cause me injury. But my invidious mind does not carp at any mans affairs (if it should, it would be invidious towards the living). But reading your works, Clere, I recall you as you were in life, and again I am wounded by your genius. Now it is a death to me that we once lived together, and that what was, ceasing to be, causes grief to have been. What will your death do, when your life creates grief? Or what will grief compel, when love compels me to weep? I do not wonder that you grieved for your father, it grieved me, who was neither his son nor your brother. But you could have mourned your father prudently, when this is is inborn piety, it is enough. Shall I speak out or hold my tongue? You may speak or stay silent. Whether you stay silent or speak, you will be pious. While you grieve, as you do, in either case your piety will be evident. Sorrow makes you hold your tongue, and speak. But in its uncertainty about what it should do your piety is proved to be the more certain, your credit is enhanced by your doubt. It is a virtue to have held your tongue, but a virtue concealed in the holding, and who is good quietly is good without a witness. Therefore, Clere, you mourned your father better by speaking: when piety speaks, it is free of suspicion. But because you show that he died before your own death, I complain you are pious unjustly. By Natures law you ought to have been his survivor, no should a son go before his father. Clere, your father was able to descend to the shades without you, but I think he could scarce have lived without you. I would not have believed such crime could have lurked within any enemy as to rejoice at Camden being taken away. What I had not believed anybody could say, I am now saying myself: it was well that he was taken away by a quick death. What if he has seen you sunk in mid-stream, and had borne your limbs from the murderous waters? Oh how often he, more sorrowful himself, would have said “Woe is me, this baleful death, and this black day!” So if harmful death carries off men by these excellent terms, Clere, it is not to be called savage by your judgment, not because it took away your father and your mother before you, because your brother has perished, and your childless sister. Now your mother and your father could have seemed old, and there was no hope of a brother or a sister. Then death could have been called cruel and harsh, when it had snatched six deaths from your household when it sank you, the hope of your family, without brother, sister, or father, and your name in the fatal waters. But perhaps death had previously heard your s, when you prayed to be a partner in your fathers death. Therefore in its boldness it was able to agree to your evil prayers, and to spurn our prayers for such great goods. Nor did it mock us moderately: a sad end threatened you, and made you the prophet of your own death. “So for what evils are you reserving me, importunate death?” (Oh, too true a statement as a self-prophecy!). But the ill things you said God turns into better, in accordance with my prayer, so your words would be true regarding the rest. So evil death knows how to work injury with boldness, but not with cunning, because it does not these things are causes of the good. For above the stars you are rejoined to your beloved father, which had been your former prayer. Fortunate boy, and father also blessed in death, each made happy by his demise, because the earth craves you again after your passing, and because heaven possesses you whom the earth craves. So accept my words that congratulate you on your salvation, and for that, Clere, which you shall not be able to lack. Farewell.
XIX. BY THE SAME
The Fate said that the Haddons were doomed to die thanks to water-nymphs. “Being a goddess, I decree the same end for them both.” She seemed to be babbling falsely, but she spoke no falsehood. For the one was done in by fluid in the head, and the other by the water of a river.
XX. CALLIANISSA, AN ECLOGUE ON THE MARRIAGE OF THE RIGHT NOBLE GENTLEMAN THE EARL OF OXFORD AND ANNE CECIL, A RIGHT EXCELLENT AND ILLUSTRIOUS WOMAN
Leaving the banks of the western Isis and their native streams, the bevy of Naiads lately convened, visiting the waters nearby where the Thames and the Isis united their names together with their currents, their currents together with their names. They all had the same aspect and hue, they all had the same beauty. The winter chills compelled them to wear clothing, so from their shoulders hung bright, yellow-bordered mantles. Ribands bound their locks, falling loose in the usual way, into a knot, and their hair was adorned by lilies which a hamadryad grew in her secret waters. And now they approached the city, cleaving the water, when Callianissa, the fairest among the rest, uttered a marriage-song which the rest of the nymphs followed up with their refrain.
“You breezes, oh you breezes with your warm gusts, you companions of the sun and summer, you who ease the winter chills, stay the cold rages of Boreas. And you be favorable, nourishing sun, let everything round about become gentle lest the hideous winter solstice steal away the sky with its pitch-dark blackness and not assault the hidden lands with hail or weeping clouds shed heavy downpours. Nor let icy north winds disturb this wedding. And you, who prove the more savage in turning back seas foreign to our peoples and repay the wrath you receive, oh ruler of English water, now be more gentle in ruling our river and, laying upon it your scepter, bid its currents join in celebrating this marriage.” Thus she spoke, and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
“Am I mistaken, or are these things promising omens of happy peace. Now a better breeze rejoices for our lovers. The winter ceases, Phoebus smiles, the stream flows more gently, and the Thames restrains its previously heaving waves, peacefully sporting as it kisses its banks. I understand this omen’s appearance: no troublesome Hymen will join them, concord will always attend them with the same appearance, binding them willingly with an everlasting union.” Thus she spoke,and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
“As when the evening star quits its native waters and outshines its companion stars with its light, or as when Phoebus raises himself in the sky most brightly and, shining, gives light with his full face, appears nobler than the rest. Passing through the aether, the higher he climbs, the more he adorns heaven, bestowing honor on the stars to which he joins himself. Thus a throng of noblemen and a company of his kinsmen made its entry, as the bridegroom displayed his honor.” Thus she spoke, and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
“As swan wanders over streams and brooks, flapping its wings hither and thither, surpassing the riverine birds with its beauty and form, adding glory to the waters it haunts, or as the fairest of pines rises amidst well-tended gardens and, seeking the heights, overtops the other trees as it surveys the sky with its comely top, so the bridegroom shines forth among the ranks of young men, adding himself as the finest amidst all the rest.” Thus she spoke, and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
“Whenever he joins in a mock battle in armor, actively steering his foaming steed with a light rein, striving to tilt with his long lance, he fearlessly sits his horse, bending his flexible body. Now he makes it wheel, now he spurs it onward. The horse flies along more swiftly than the rapid east wind, rears, prances, and ardently beats the ground with its hooves, and then pulls to a stop as the reins are plied. Congratulations on your early training, young man. Thus martial hearts grow, thus young bulls first test their horns. Thus goats barely able to stand begin to butt heads, and soon dare wound with their horns. Thus your nation hopes you will be excellent in war, superior at wielding your weaponry, and calls for you as its captain. As you become fuller in years your virtue will begin to put forth leaves and swiftly bear fruit, and your glory will come of age in your first achievements.”
“As flowers grow on a river bank, which the Naiads’ care waters with warm waves, as myrtle in a forest, and an unwed laurel in a garden, thus the bride shines with the tender blossom of her untouched youth, surpassing the roses and lilies in her beauty. And here sits not only the glory of beauty: honor is added and the virtue inherited from her paternal blood. Every one of her gestures speaks of decorum and innate grace, and whatever a husband can adore in a wife.”
“Be happy, maiden (soon to be a maiden no more, but happy whatever you will be).” You are helped by your father’s excellent virtue, happily promising you popular favor. Hence Britain, owing your father so much, receives you with bright marriage-torches of happy omen, cheers for your titles, and congratulates you on this honor, for you let springtime flourish throughout the year. As soon as the flowery land begins to gleam thanks to Phoebus in heaven, bringing forth its fragrant gifts, the flowers of parthenium and eringion, a plant bristling with thorns but useful for lovers, thanks to whose flower (if antiquity is to be believed) Phaon earned the sweet hand of Sappho. Whether a wife wears this on her breast or keeps it concealed in her garment, her remains untroubled and the pledges of the bedroom unsullied, nor does her husband think upon alien ardors.” Thus she spoke, and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
“Lucky is the father-in-law beholding his daughter’s marriage, and lucky is the son-in-law in his father, and likewise you in your husband, girl, and (so that nothing might be left unsaid here) lucky you are in your bride, husband. No falsifying Hymen forges these bonds: either spouse has something to love in the other, and something which can be loved. And as it grows greater thanks to the passage of years and increasing familiarity, your love will increase, as will the glory of your title, and a scion resembling his father in his equally noble blood, whose virtue will surpass that of his father, and his prudence that of his grandfather. For these happy things the nymphs of the Isis pray, and so also do the nymphs whom the Cam has instructed beneath his water.” Thus she spoke, and the rest of the company of nymphs sang Hymen, o Hymenaeus, Hymenaeus.
XXI. LYCIDAS, AN ECLOGVUE ON BRITAINS ANCIENT LITERATURE, AND PARTICULARLY ABOUT HER KINGS DISTINGUISHED FOR THEIR LEARNING AND WHO FOUNDED COLLEGES AT CAMBRIDGE
Mythicus and Nicias (of whom the one dwelt by Isis stream, and the other by the flooding waters of the Cam), of an equal age, debated who received the Muses, seeking our shores when they had fled the sterile waters of Pemessis; he alleged Isis stream, and Nicias the fields of the two-streamed Granta. The grace of Nicias eloquent tongue was greater, his honor was greater, he sat singing on a greater hill; his locks were hoary, his beard hung hoary as he sang, a badge of snow-white old age, and, hanging longer from his chin, adorned his breast. From his ancestral river bank Lycidas heard them contending, he who round about the Cams meadows had lived by fowling for five winters and the like number of shining summers, and, hesitant to follow them while he hunted by the Cams chill banks, he addressed the nearby river with words such as these:
“You who, glassine, seek the sea with your gentle current, and beneath your stream law down laws for the nymphs, Father Cam, since from the worlds beginning you water our fields and cleave them with your eternal wanderings, tell me whence the ancient Britons got their pedigree, and who were the fathers and ancient chiefs in the time this land first began to flourish with new settlers. And if there is credit that is not empty, tell who bore with him over the seas the Muses, seeking our foreign shores, and who founded these monuments along your waters. Thus may the alder-tree flourish, rising on your marge, which may furnish shade with its hanging branches. Thus, where marshy Ely is surrounded by many fens, may your sedge be not mangled by floods.” These things said Lycidas, and with his hands thrice making libation to the streams, the like number of times he struck at the banks with a wand of poplar, making a noise, and flailed the place with a loud sound.
Then Father Cam, amazed with sudden fear of the strange voice, lifted his soggy head from the waters surface, and at the same time the nymphs, risen from his glassine current, flowed themselves around him in a thick gaggle, Thespio, and Drymo, Diona, Caesarie, Eurynome and her sister Thoe, and the maiden Nomoleae, and snow-white Leuce, and Xantho with her yellow veil, golden in her locks but rosy of cheek and white of face, and Melane, and Crocale, and parti-colored Anthos with Aemone, and Diodora and Themis (once both Oceanids, now nymphs of the river), and Berosia, born of Greek stock, and at the same time preeminent amongst the Assyrian nymphs, outstanding for her visage but of more than marriageable age, and Polydora, whom the Arno begat beneath foreign fountains, but now dwelling in English streams — all schooled to run through the succession of years in their songs, and to rehearse the times in their lengthy annals.
He, holding in his hands an urn and a handsome scepter, produced a tome bound in black leather and jasper. This (a venerable gift) Mnemosyne had given him, the ancient mother of the Boeotian sisters. Opening up this volume, and seeking the origins of ancient things, shaking his brow full of river-moss, rehearsing such things as this he sang from his placid waters:
“Samothean men first inhabited these wave-girt fields, who, borne over the blue sea, came over the oceans unknown waves. In their boats they were searching for soil, after the rivers of heaven began to hide themselves once more in the ocean, and the human race to grow in the reborn lands. Hence some called them aborigines, and others Giants, since the worlds vigorous youth, not yet defiled, long preserved the seeds of things unsullied (the seeds whose strength a later age had not yet stolen). Hence their sturdy bodies grew with great mass, and a courage of mind equal to their bodies, a zeal for the honorable, and a magnificent strength flourishing in the great limbs; hence they aimed at heaven, their minds aimed at lofty things. Samotheus first produced the royal scepters of this new race, he who extended the borders of his realm, bounded by the seas, and oppressed the Celts with his great empire. Hence he was also called by the Iberian name of Disceltas. In him a lofty vigor of spirit and a divinely inspired power of mind shone bright, as, sitting with much gravity, teaching justices laws and the sacred statutes of the highest Thunderer, he restrained fallen men with his strong reins, and inculcated sound manners in the mindful breast. Hence the Samothean settlers for whom these fields first lay open, and this island, beaten by the waves of a double sea, retained the name of Samothea for centuries. Next Magus, who founded the first cities within Europes borders, and surrounded with suburban ditches small towns, not yet wont to be troubled by wars, and, mighty, he succeeded to his ancestral scepters and pursuits. How great the mans virtue! What great zeal for justice in his breast, how great his love of piety! With what arts he once flourished! But mankinds mutable report forbade his repute to pass through the ages of time, and the mouths of his descendants.
“After him came Sarron, who, receiving the reigns of his fathers realm, managed it with equal virtue and skill, holy in his ancient religion. He removed the Muses, who followed him freely, from the Castalian waters and Paean, and gave them cities in which to dwell, and safe homesteads, they who abhorred the goddesses of the forests and the wanton deities of the unruly throng of Panes who go a-straying in the greenwood, for they scarce maintain their decency even in a locked citadel.
“Druis followed him in his kingdom and paternal virtue, and appointed seers, called by his name Druids (Druids, that holy race). He by his admonitions tamed the bestial rites. He taught of the stars and the heavens (the native home of the soul) and of our celestial homeland, and the ever-expanding centuries of the intellect.
“Bardus succeeded his father, and ruled as a fair judge, most welcome to his people and the Muses alike. With his lyre he was wont to sing of heroes and gods (those happy souls) and to preserve brave deeds. Among us, a gnawing malice of writers envies deserved honors, malice and the passage of time, hostile to the Muses. Nevertheless the name of Bardus yet endures, yet to be sung of poets, as does the glory of such a reign, scarce undeserving.
“Such an island, very blessed under such a prince, while the prince himself was its captain, its comrade, and its reward! A hero himself, he sang of heroes, and he is sung of by them. And he established the Muses (himself scarce their least part). But soon a worse age, a degenerate one and closer to iron, gradually began to come over the land. Albion, fierce with his great limbs, invaded Samothea, a son of Neptune. And with him came as a comrade wicked Mars, and Bellona, raging with her horrible flail, and unfortunate Discord followed these with her torn robe, and Madness, and Slaughter. Stricken, the Muses began to retreat far off to places of hiding, from afar they shunned impious wars, and, in the meanwhile, thrown into confusion, they sought shadows and repose. Fierce, he imposed his victors name on the conquered folk, and called them by Albions name, scarce an enduring one.
“Soon came Brutus, a Trojan of unlucky origin, driven by the Fates and Dianas admonitions. With his hand he founded a savage race of Albions seed, and overthrew the Giants (those hideous monsters). Tarrying here, he bequeathed to his flourishing progeny laws and a name for the British people, and sweet repose, and an empire and divided realms.
“But Humber, wearied of Scythian cold and snowy Rhodope, bringing wars, slaughters, and nomad bands, fiercely overcame in battle Cambrus and young Albanactus (brave souls, alas, in vain!). For whom victorious Locrinus exacted atonement with Scythian blood and enemy gore. But Humber, his eagle-standards routed and his battalions shattered, gradually retreated to a river with slow steps and feet not hasty, swollen with wrath. The Britons pressed him harder, threw him into confusion, and pressed him with their blows. Buried under their weapons and the waters, unfortunate, he surrendered his life and name to a British river. And even now it swells, and with its royal gait the Humber waxes wrathy with waters never at peace: the conquered man died by Mars, the Humber absorbed by Neptune. Yet, captivated by a Scythian face and a pretty lamentation, the victor beseeched a captive girl, and Locrinus yielded to female tears (sunk in her watery eyes). Soon he prevailed, and settled her in pat of his bedchamber. But made wretched (a wretched and uncertain lover) by the deceit of a complex household, and hiding his love-intrigues with cunning stone, ah, he maintained poor Sabrina with an illicit fire. Now the nubile maiden had put seventeen years behind her, when at length the violated marriage-vows and the unfaithfulness of a scorned marriage-bed became known to Locrinus furious wife. She did not complain or lament: she raged and boiled with bitter anger, storing up her husbands recent crimes in her heart, and brooding on them in her mind, in savage battle and with arms this virago attacked the lying king, where the full Severn waters the rich fields and roils with its swollen waves. He, distraught that his legions were broken in battle and his battalions captured, cruelly pierced himself in the breast with a drawn sword (a breast twice overcome by womanly weapons). A loyal comrade, the concubine fell upon the king (a miserable corpse), and took upon herself his still-warm sword. But the unfortunate maiden Sabrina, terrified by her mothers fate as she fled the face of her vengeful stepmother, standing on Severns banks where his full water laves Abermule, ‘Father Severn, Severn, she called, ‘on whose banks and curving stream I was once wont to play, if I brought you fitting honors, if I cheerfully strewed your waters with a plucked flower, and violets and roses, if I strewed you with garlands woven of laurel and myrtle, take pity, father, on me as I die and (if there be a way) ward off this baleful mood from my sad stepmother.
“He heard and, taking pity on the girl, pallid with impending death, he bore her off to his greeny home, where he laid down royal laws for the nymphs, and gladly settled her in the honor of his bedchamber, and named a river Sabrina after the drowned maiden.
“Next came Medanus, and Mempricius, a hunter who dwelt in woodland shades, who, while bore his weapons ranging the uninhabited mountains, waxed angry at the cruel boars, and fell, gored by the wild beasts tusks, and left his scepter to be wielded by Ebraucus, scarce of fit age.
“But when older he took up arms and added to his empire the people whom the Oder waters with its placid stream, where Germany lies wide with its huge expanses. Returning hence, he overcame the Picts, who were laying waste the walls of the North, where Osa is not yet mingled with the sea. Brutus succeeded him, carrying the protection of a green shield, and Leillus, returning from the vanquished north, a victor who founded towns on the banks of the Esk.
“Lud followed him, distinguished by the pursuits of peace and war. He encircled his city with new walls, where the sluggish Stour leads his stream to the eastern sea, and in vain roils the shifting sands.
“Bladudus received the kingdom from his dead father, who, making use of leisure, with wars set aside, excelled his forefathers in the arts and sciences of the mind. As a boy, in the first bloom of his youth, he sought out the folk of Argos and great Athens. Returning thence from that foreign clime, more distinguished than his father in government, he was most distinguished in his studies. For to him Nature disclosed her arts, and the ways of land and sea, and the powerful virtues of herbs. And likewise he knew how to track the courses of the stars and to rehearse their numbers in their fast motion, and to distinguish the great world with its boundaries. And he also (a shocking thing!) bade the fearful waters to marry the sulfurous fires, and from their shocking embrace to engender peaceful health, where the turgid Avon disgorges, and Bath spouts its healing springs.
“And after his death followed unfortunate Leyrus, whom Cordelia, fetching an army from France, restored to the realm whence he was banished, and (a maid avenging her father) expelled her two sisters from their dower lands, and she herself picked up and managed the reins of government.
“But when her thrice-conquered nephews’ conquered her, and had laden the womans tender limbs with chains, she did not bear it, and, wearied of the pain of harsh prison (ah the unhappy maid!) pierced her innocent breast, and the life dwelling in her red blood, with steel (mindful of her virtue, but not of her sex). But Earth, taking pity on the blameless girl, straightway received the blood welling from her still-warm death, and sent into the Springtime air a yellow flower. Nowadays, too, the cordelia, growing along ancient walls and above the high roofs of houses, preserves the name of the dead girl in her native tongue.
“But when zealous Condagius demanded undivided honors of government and could not tolerate a division of rule, he went to war, and four times he pursued the fleeing Welshmen, soaking the banks of the Severn with the blood of his kinsmen. What do you not force mortal hearts to do, hope of rule and insane greed for the scepter?
“Next came Rivallo, mighty in his wealth, who next succeeded Gurgustus, and stern Iago, fair Sisyllus, and Chaimachus, a boy, to whom shameful sloth first attached itself in his crib, and then Gorbodus, an inglorious man who led an idle life.
“These were followed by Porres, girt with a curved scimitar, whom madness and crazed greed for the scepter drove to unspeakable slaughters. While he waged civil wars, he fouled his hand with his brothers blood. But venerable old age rarely gives the author of slaughter a hoary head or a final tomb, without bloodshed. For as he was warm with fraternal blood, his mother (alas, the madness, the defiled piety of a harsh parent!), supplying courage to murder, a hand to her courage, and weapons to her hand, attacked him, and cut his throat with drawn blade. Next various kings joined in battle once more, until Mulmucus, setting up his victorious standards among the Brutus-born chieftains, alone claimed the honors of rule. He was the first to wear a gold diadem on his victorious locks (a usage unknown to our kings), and at length bequeathed the reins to Belinus. But why am I recalling kings to whom cruel battles and assaying Mars with the steel were ever dear? So that thus you might learn the history of Brutus-born race, and the changes of its ruler, from the time that the Boeotian maids first made this home of theirs here, coming through our waves.
“Next after these Gurguntius brought himself forward, the son of his father Belinus, and while he wielded the scepter Cantaber first saw these lands and shores, Cantaber, who, born of Hesperian kings, explored the Oceans waters, and, in need of hospitality when his ships had been shattered, joined himself in an alliance more than hospitable, and won the hand of Belinus daughter. And while he was wandering my banks and my streams, still unknown, and looking for a place to found a city, I addressed him with words such as these: ‘Hesperian youth, offspring of royal blood, you who are here having been hoped for in my prayers, how I receive you now with a happy current! Nor have idle forecasts moved my mind. For, I recall, once upon a time, when I was mingling with the first waters of the Ocean, this blue prophet of the sea, Proteus who governs the rivers, sang such destinies to me: that a bright star with a brilliant light would come here from the climes of Hesperia, which would pour flames on my holy head and shower my stream with its rays. Henceforth I have twisted my rivers through unknown vales. Now the Tweed, the Humber, and the Thames himself, ruler of English waters, will stand for me, and my repute will travel through foreign streams. Now Doris, now royal Tethys will hear my name, and the Nereids will cheer for my waters where I am mingled among the seas shifting sands. So come, observing the first tracks of your footsteps, begin building walls and construct a famous city for your household gods. Here for you there will be assured peace, here a town will grow up, thick with buildings, which will bear your name through the ages. And firstly hail to you, Pierian Muses, you of the race of heaven and the gods, now on British soil: our progeny to come promise you noble houses.
“He, marking out the fated ground with a new plough, raised up a mighty city with its spaces and walls, and built houses. Now scarce a trace remains of such a mighty work: thus wicked Mars has pulled everything down, and Time, hostile to prior centuries. This (nor empty is my credit) is the origin of your natal city, which Cantaber once founded by these waters, Cantaber, by origin a scion of Hesperian kings. And now, all along these banks (like Pernessis), with a chorus of Naiads cheering them, the Pierian sisters began to sound their tunes, and happily sing their songs, exulting with the gift of tranquil peace. From all sides troops of youths and old men began to flock here freely. Soon Bellona, fourth of the Eumenidean sisters (grieving that Barbarity, whom horrid Night had borne to Mars, had been banished from Britains borders) ardently dispatched herself from the waters of the Styx, bearing arms and death in her hand. And she terrified the fearful Muses, and mingled everything with frequent wars. So henceforth, when the Britons sought divides scepters, with an internecine sword they disrupted sweet peace. Hence the Scot and the Picts, trusting in their long spears, poured themselves within our lands, brining annual wars to our folks, and bringing settlers when our crops were new, and every year they took away our captive autumn crop to rivers near the Tweed. And hence the victorious camps which with indomitable fighting the Roman maintained, having banished the Silures, wasted everything with the steel while they sought back their standards, whom the warrior-woman Voadica, hostile to their captive leaders, defeated in the company of her Hamadryad sisters, their battle-line thrown into rout. She was not wont to ply distaffs and wicker baskets with her hand, but rather the steel, and in her car to steer her four-horse teams boldly through the midst of the enemy, or to lead ardent squadrons of foot into battle, or (if wars were concluded and peace flourished) to strike the foaming boar with its long dewlaps, and to rouse the raging wolf, being accustomed to this work, yet she was more eager to kindle battles and renewed wars.
“Thus once more the Muses long kept their silence, and curbed their wanted songs, until in better years the race of Christians began to grow throughout the entire world. And now this genuine faith in heaven, now this religion, the best of all things, quitting the temple at Jerusalem, visited the East, the people of the Ocean, and the nations scattered across the sea. God, the Ruler of this great age, wished this.
“Lucius first received this, wandering along our shore and long fearing the contact of our poor people, and, adoring God with due honor, abandoned the sin of his life and his previous religion. Previously the Brutus-born had worshiped images of gods on the sacred peak of a lofty mountain, by lakes, in groves revered with religious awe, and rivers gliding deep in wooded vales: especially Mercury, and Diana the huntress, Thetys, and Father Gradivus, who presided over wars. And so, after he had laved himself in consecrated waters, straightway he bade the images of the ancient gods be removed, and their abominable rites to be expunged from the temples. He gave back to the Muses their praises and rewards, and turned mens minds to honest arts, and he repaired the fallen walls along my banks.
“But a better fortune is short-lived, nor are extensive times owed to happy affairs. I saw, I saw horrendous wars when the Saxons, abandoning the fields of their ancestral Weser, filled these fields with their dense band. Alas, how many times I hid my face beneath these streams! How many times I sluggishly scarce wended my way to the sea, my waters clogged with corpses, and at the same time carrying their weapons! How often I saw new battles after the steel had been laid aside, and victorious armies go a-flying, and scattered leaders join battle anew, their standards regathered! These folk, zealous to abolish the name of the Britons altogether, pulled down walls, and (alas the cruel crime! alas the dire licenses of steel!) consigned to the merciless flames the annals of this ancient race and all their writings. Thus the labors that had begun perished once more in war, not otherwise than when, beneath the sun of springtime Taurus (when first seeds dare entrust themselves to the warm days), horrid winter rages again, the Zephyrs banished, and hurls down snow from the skies, and many a joyless storm flows with rainwater, a storm bringing a dire omen for growing things, and lays low the fields, and destroys the fresh hope for a new year. And now it abates, and again, as if a battle-line were drawn up, it lashes the earth with rain, sending a-rolling the swollen rivers, and lays low the sad fields as the farmers mourn. Then again (for no safe places were open to them) the Muses gathered up their pens and scattered to the breezes. But Sigibert, recalling them to their ancient city, restored them and reestablished the goddesses with a home and his resources.
“Then, too, Aldfrith, mighty in war, held the scepters of the North, where the rich Humber flows through the fields. He knew how to predict the movements of the sun, destined to return, and the risings and settings of the stars in the heaven, both mighty in war and most distinguished in science. Next to him in time, and likewise next to him in the virtues of scepter, Ceolwulf took over the reins of the Humber-dwelling race, a man whom once the nymph Thespio sang from my stream as being distinguished at the Muses arts and mighty in battle, Thespio, who, singing the achievements and battles of the Christ-worshipping folk, honored ancient kings in her song, and posterity called her after her fathers name, Beda. See this cottage, now inhabited by feathery doves, and a shepherd has roofed with thatch. This was her house, hence her song could be heard by my waters.
“But not even yet could the hesitant Muses hope for assured peace: the stars promised greater slaughter. Now a new army coming brought us slaughter from its paternal climes, where the foamy Dneister flows in its deep bed; hastening with its rapacious waves, it flows as an umpire between the Polish and Danish fields. Then once again the nations joined in war with varying fortune, nor was Mars and the outcome always on the side of the same victors. We rivers which flowed from English mountains and ran between watered fields flowed red with battles and blood. Thus we wretchedly dragged out a long life among shields, clashing arms, and the music of trumpets: always in mourning beneath our fearful waves, we listened to the sad laments of the common folk, until the Norman victor, bringing just legions, made an end to the causes of war and, having gained the kingdom, granted the firstfruits of peace to the rejoicing Muses. For a lesser son and yet a greater one left his paternal realm and came to our waters, while pursuing a campaign against his brother Robert. For that man, accustomed to war from his first years, cultivated the military art. No other man was more adept at laying out bright camps by stretching out ropes, or leading battalions of foot or squadrons of horse, or understood better how each man was to be placed in his rank and exhorted to battle with great speeches. Syrian captains were astonished by this man, as those who drank from the snowy Strymon and the chill waters of the Dneiper when in his young years he joined forces with the others and sought back the hills of palm-bearing Lebanon, Mount Zion, Apollo’s Rhodes, and the city of Jerusalem. After his return, while his enemy fell upon him alongside the two-faced Tyne, he was first in gaining possession of the river’s shallows and routed the Picts, their arms cast aside.
“But the younger brother, being a soldier of the Muses, spent his youth better armed, and cultivated a peaceful camp. Beginning in his day, the Muses began to hope for better support from kings amidst their adversities, their riches restored, and to promise themselves settled peace.
“But not yet did the Pierian Muses possess those halls and spire-decorated structures you see placed alongside our waters. Once the goddesses were content with meager homes, and sang amongst the river-willows and shadows, dwelling in cellars roofed over with thatches of reed. So, if you perchance have the leisure to understand the monuments of prior times and learn of the sixteen houses of the Pierian Sisters, and those responsible for raising those halls, learn the things which it behooves their late descendants to bear in mind.
“Do you see that first one, composed of courts constructed on the south side of the town, its protection is consecrated to God, but its name to Peter? Balsham founded it, he who had gained the fields girt by the watery fens of Ely.
“The next set of sanctuaries boast of a woman’s name, having been built for the Muses by Elizabeth, the wife of Aymer, he who ruled the fields of Pembroke as their Earl, and also the Welsh whom Phoebus sees as he sinks at at dusk’s endings.
“Men recall that the third, whose halls are exposed to the chill north winds, had Henry as its founder, he whom Lancaster bore, fertile in its lands and wealthy in its flocks.
“Do you see these nearby walls rising up alongside our banks? This house glories in having a queen as its founder. Henry’s consort Margaret once established it while her fortune was better, while she was not vainly waging wars on behalf of her captive husband. But when the House of Lancaster finally fell from power and the queen fled after the murder of her husband, her rival in bested virtue (but not her enemy) Elizabeth completed the work she had begun. Do you not see her husband’s nearby college, which vaunts of its wealth and its name of King’s?
“This sixth one Henry constructed in his old age when he possessed a disloyal realm, for which a huge chapel and its walls were erected with the royal name on its cornerstone, set in the corner which faces the northern Bear. This would have been a very fortunate house, if its remainder had matched its first beginnings, but Mars, envied the Muses the rest. Behold what mass and what foundations remain from the unfinished work! They say it was barely able to ward off Edwards threats to keep him from waging war on the undeserving Muses when he returned after defeating his enemy, leading hostile regiments with their hateful banners, and raging with an urge to burn down its innocuous houses. This same king added another refuge for the nascent Muses, where the Isis gently flows with its currents and waters the fields of Hampton with its stream and lofty Windsor looks down on the adjacent fields. Oh you old man, much to be lamented! The fortunes of war took away your royal scepter and frail life. But your tranquil virtue shone forth in times of tranquil peace, harmful for you alone: it will live on and in no age will your reputation be wrapped in silence.
“But behold the household spirits who dwell in a nearby home. Woodlark of Kings dedicated this gift. See how they acknowledge this honor conferred by the royal pile, as their lofty walls adore it with lowered spires.
“You see the next space, hidden by buildings, and called by the single word Clare. Badew founded this alongside our waters, and the structure next door was dedicated by Bateman for the severe study of the law and courtroom-work. Now Bartholus rules this hall.
“But one part of this stands white with a new wall, an improved wall, new though built out of old stone. This house remembers Gonville as its founder: dying without issue, he bequeathed his all to the Muses. Lately Caius enhanced this house with new land and equipped it with a doubled wall. Do you see how it boasts of its new wall and its choir of Muses, proud with its growing fabric?
“Next comes halls which threaten the heights with their four new towers and stretch out their gleaming rooms in a huge circle, last in order but not in virtues. Henry enhanced its structure, and when he had conjoined three halls he gave a name to what he had accomplished. And the structures you see hard by its walls, made of brick, red with equal stone. Perched above its high gates as a watchman, an ardent stag rears up with gilt horns. Margaret erected this, she to whom Derbyshire gave happy birth. On her deathbed she likewise dedicated to Christ these halls you see hard by to the east.
“The halls you see next to the bridge were once begun by Audley, who laid the foundations for the opposite wall. But the Lord Stafford had completed the work already started, he who was produced by a region most replete with bucks for the benefit of its does.
“Soon you will see arising between these a structure with its snow-white spires and walls shining with a rosy color. A noble woman (blessed in her husband, more blessed in her breeding) was a Sidney shoot grafted on a Sussex trunk.
“The final college you see placed upon our banks, in which (as long as the Romish state of affairs prevailed) hooded friars spent their sluggish idleness, Alcock transformed and left as freshly consecrated to the Muses, that bishop who ruled the divided waters.
“And you too, old man Mildmay, will found fair halls happy for Christ, and Muses sanctified by a fair omen, where Clarius rises from the dusky Indies, and at its eastern limits brings to a close this city enhanced for myself.
“But what gratitude or praise will exist for you, you distinguished souls, equal to your merits? With what rewards will your nation requite you? Behold the prizes which the Muses will give you and the ways in which I shall devise your honors: I shall build you an altar of turf alongside the greeny banks, and establish new rites for you employing fresh willow branches. A band of Muses standing around in a sad circle will sing you dirges with a mournful song. I shall add purple flowers, adding water lilies and mint, and shall perform these vain offices.
“But while making these paints, venerable lad, I shall not ignore you, you glory of the nation and the scepter, Edward, you who belonged to the learned Sisters, you who provided such great delights for your subjects while on the throne, and now such great lamentations in death. Ah, what monuments he would have left beside my waters, with what honors he would have adorned the arts, had better fates granted him a respite of life! Alas, piety! Alas, holy faith! And a majesty greater than his years! It was not the ship-breaking might of the heaving sea, nor the battles which take away great-minded kings, nor any enemy that stole you from us, but rather your piety, your true faith, which had grown greater than your years, and your virtue, growing old in the bloom of your youth. Alas, you pitiful lad, you yourself are more blessed in heaven, but still an object of sorrow for those of us on this earth. The mighty Thames and our lakes have mourned you. With shorn locks the nymphs of our Isis have lamented for you, and the waters of Isis, and royal daughters everywhere, captivated by the sweetness of your beauty, who had hoped for sweet marriage. But this hope has returned after your second sister, that second heiress to her brother’s virtues, succeeded to the throne. I remember her countenance, the words that she spoke, the good faith of her promise, nor will she fade from our hearts since she visited the homes of the nine Sisters (being the tenth herself) and convened the Muses in the Latin language. How much everything else matched the good fortune of her scepter! What heavenly love of eloquence! How her sweet grace made her expression peaceful! How her august majesty moderated the changes in her face! how worth of a virgin both her modesty and the beauty of her appearance! But her wit was greater than that of a virgin, her prudence surpassed that of her frail sex.
“Oh the glory! Oh this virgin, never to go unmentioned through all the years! What a very fortunate virgin, as long as you do not always remain so, Eliza, and your constant sense of shame do you damage with its virtue, allowing the rosy bloom of your springtime to wither, not caring to join you to a companion or have a care for the marriage-contract, nor sweet children or the products of the marriage-bed you owe us, to whom it would bequeath our fields to govern.
“But now Phoebus steered the course of his horses straight down into the ocean, now intent on paying a visit to the Titaness Tethys, grown lesser with his light, and glowing more augustly with his great orb. And as he ended the day, see how he advised that they should make an end to their speaking. So this is the series of events, these are the names of our kings. Happy this land inn its soil, happy in its employment of its wealthy waters, and most happy in its people. So he came to a stop, and Father Cam hid himself in his waters. Driving their currents with the scepter in his hands, he carried the bevy of nymphs along with himself. Then, addressing the river bank with a tremulous murmur, his water bid farewell to King’s, and the weeping willows dipped down their branches to the liquid water. Not otherwise does a flock of swans, happily gliding along the water’s streams, in their number taking turns in ducking their necks between the waves, worship their departing king, their bodies abased. Then, arising once more, they strike the air with their plumage, redoubling their blows with cheering wings., and the streams themselves give another cheer from their hollow caverns.”
But Lycidas shouldered his bow and his quiver, rose up from the ground, and sought out his hut. And as he went he was accompanied by his hounds, Eucopeon and Talaphron, accustomed on the hunt to start up fleet birds, Summoned, they swiftly ran to their master. Put on the leash, they obediently matched his pace.
Now, Foxe, having performed its great labor for the third time, your ship has roamed the waters and thrice caught sight of the shore. As you sing of exiles and swords, and of bodies consumed by flames, our pallid limbs falter, but your virtue remains tireless, useful for us, harmful only to yourself. Why do you not seize upon soft rest and console yourself for your efforts, divine sir? You cannot, a great passion for God always agitates your mind and restores new strength to your heart. So come: since for our benefit you sing the memorable deeds of pious men, hasten onwards and indulge your toil. Now a posterity will arise and learn the history of our great age, preserved by the long-enduring guardianship of Reputation, and read the Monuments of your effort (venerable sir), and that age to come will marvel at our great-hearted leaders, of heaven gained by passing through the midst of fire, and will jealously seek to imitate the holy praiseworthy deeds of those men of old: no other fires will subdue the heavenly flames in their hearts, no royal authority nor any steely violence of sword or spear., as when that bird, coming from the mountains of the east, performs its funereal duty, seeking to join itself to the ashes of its ancestors, preparing a pyre and flames for itself, and emerges from the fire all the greater and flies off on new wings, and with a happy clamor the local birds follow after it.
You happy souls, above the stars whatever moves mortal hearts is trampled underfoot by you in your blessedness, now our honor, has no concern for rewards nor for what this earth might do, jealous of such great virtues. But see, while the earth reads of our martyrs’ great deeds and wonders at their strength, it will give a cheer and follow their conquering faith above the stars. If they owe anything at all to mortals, thje very ashes of the saints will admit they are indebted to you, Foxe. The time will come when, after your death and your pious labors, you will be above the lofty stars and see those noble heroes whose names you record in order to to grant them fame, and you in turn will be seen by them. And now, as this world fails, their progeny will imitate them, surpassing their fathers, and religion will rise all the brighter in high heaven, religion, that glory of mankind, that best guardian of empire, which holy faith accompanies as it marches along, and around it golden peace will in happy lands. Then too the Monuments of your divine labor and your holy work will flourish, and their fruit will both bless our people their descendants for long centuries to come.
Behold a black lion, displaying your familys emblem, stands conspicuous on a shining field. He admonishes you to keep snow-white morals in your heart, the color and the lion bid you be brave. How fitting are three words of your motto, conjoined to the black lion, Gaudet patientia duris, they likewise bid you be brave. Thus let the rule of your life be as your motto, what is in it should be in your deeds, so that nobility renders you humble, your large fortune makes you modest, your honor makes you mild, and your great abundance makes you pious. It is indeed a hard thing, Gaudet patientia duris. Your praise will befit your motto, if something ill should please you, not to want what you wish, to go without that which you desire, to abstain from pleasing ills. It is indeed a hard thing, Gaudet patientia duris. Take care lest you seem inferior to your motto. If something should displease you, take care to ease your hearts fierce impulses and hold on to the reins of your wrath. It is indeed a hard thing, Gaudet patientia duris. This too befits your motto, if ills befall you, to bear your pain with a tranquil mind, nor to succumb in the face of your ills. It is indeed a hard thing, Gaudet patientia duris. Beware lest you seem unlike your motto. If you can do this well, you will be great in fortune, blood and name, and a Maximilian greater than the maximum.
XXIV. GILES FLETCHER ON THE JONAS OF THAT MOST EXCELLENT AND LEARNED MAN PETER BARO
As before, Jonas was hidden in a fish of the deep, and again in the midst of the water he lacked the light. Lo, he appeared to you, yielded up from the belly of the whale, and, as before, he departed the midst of the waters. And hastening again to the walls of Nineveh, greater than he was before, he intoned the threats he had been commanded to utter. Thus, bright Baro, your effort and piety achieved, while you dwelt far from your nations borders as an exile. So henceforth will your loss be useful to us, and will this nation be enriched by your exile? It will not be worthy of these things if, when your nation fails you, our nation will not serve you as yours.
XXV. ON THE DEATH OF THAT EXCELLENT AND MOST RENOWNED YOUTH, PHILIP SIDNEY, KNIGHT, WHO IN THE BATTLE OF ZUTPHEN JOINED RECENTLY BY THE IJSSEL RIVER BETWEEN THE ENGLISH AND THE SPANISH) WAS STRICKEN BY A BULLET AND PERISHED
Just now your virtue breathed of Mars work and his ardors, Philip, noble scion of a great-minded father, and just now, among the Belgians, harried by foreign soldiers, you were giving proof of your martial prowess, where the Ijssel waters with its current the fields of Zutphen, when, as you were championing religion, God, the people, law and right, as you followed the great-hearted generals and the Lords brave achievements (when you fiercely summoned Mars to the first fight and, alas too brave, were rushing towards your doom), a gun took you off with its ball. Therefore in your death Piety, Prudence, Martial Virtue, and Constancy, that guardian of an unmoved mind, and prudent Candor, which can neither deceive of be deceived, and humble Modesty, who governs uplifted fortune, likewise mourned their lost hopes, and mourned their own deaths at your tomb.
You, noble Philip, the glory of war and of peace, the leaders of war and peace, the entire Commons, the nobility and knighthood mourn, and the Queen mourns you, who did the Queens bidding. And not only your homeland, but every place and every land: Belgium (alas, the fatal ground of your death), Scotland, the land of Italy, the German peoples, and France. And unless, albeit savage, it is crueller than itself, Spain, the very author of your death laments your passing. And not just the peoples: places sacred and profane mourn you being taken away: the churches, the market, the countryside, the courtroom, the camp, the Academy — the church that you were pious, the army that you were brave, the Universities that you were learned, the Court that you were its companion, the countryside that you were bountiful, the public law that you were just.
You, noble Philip, the glory of war and peace, the very insignia of war and peace mourn: spears, books, the pen, the bugle, the saddle, the lists where, indefatigable, you were wont to be the first to enter your horse and tilt with the long lance, and, taking your turn at feigning wars image in arms, to wield the reins of your foaming steeds. And lastly, whatever was noble and lovable mourns you and itself, stricken by the same wound. Only Olympus, the undying, eternal and unchangeable lodging of your mind and your home, rejoices that you are a glory snatched from the earth and taken off in battle.
XXVI. A FUNERAL POEM ON THE DEATH OF THAT MOST ILLUSTRIOUS KNIGHT, SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
Lately I was pondering to myself why Virtue is always deprived of her children, as I see that Wickedness is more fruitful than any Hydra, scarce destined to perish in nine centuries. The dimwit lacking in estate and prospects survives, as does the profane man, the prodigal, and the wretched miser. And those whose lives are of no use to themselves or to you, why are they granted the days of a Nestor? As I think on it this occurs to me as the common cause, that everything that exists cherishes and protects that which resembles itself. This I think, that the nearby earth hangs on to those whose minds are wholly terrestrial. But those whose mind is born of a heavenly seed, a noble star draws them aloft, there where in peace they may cherish eternal repose, where the terrestrial dregs of evil cannot extend. Of their number were you, renowned Sidney, you whose loss the entire British race grieves. Indeed (trust me) it mourns you with sincere lamentation, and this your earth resounds with your praises.
XXVII. AN ALLEGORICAL ECLOGUE AGAINST CONTEMPT FOR PREACHERS
Hear the woodland tune of a man practicing on his reed, which a budding bards new flute lately sang amidst the leafy willows, where Cam leads his streams (small, but most dear to the Muses) to the sea, through the barren sedges of grass. Now heavy Phoebus was scorching the Nemean Lions back, and the meadows were parched with hot flames, when two shepherds came together by its banks, shunning the harmful suns glare, the one Myrtilus, the other Celadon, Celadon, than whom none was better at grazing his flocks, or at delighting his well-fed nannies with a song. After they had sought out shade welcome to their heads, and fit for conversation, amidst the willows and tamarisk leaves, thus Celadon was the first to speak with his mouth.
CEL.“Why your sad face and downcast eye, Myrtilus” (said he)? For your eyes do not now delight in watching your frisking nannies, as was their wont, and your lambs capering in hope of grass. Your hair, which the comb used to furrow with its teeth, hangs rough sans its usual neatness, and your bristly beard is stiff on your unkempt chin. Have you a care for your flock? You ram and your kidlings are safe, your munching heifers are cropping the pliant shrubbery. For, I think, love is not scorching you in your late years, nor is your heart smoking with secret ardors for Amaryllis, which were wont to torment you as a youth.
MYRT. O Celadon, no troubles have arisen in my affairs, nor has the love which clung to my first years raged with its humors against my worn-out, empty frame. But recently, as I was brooding on the fate7 of shepherds, and the many ills that befall our affairs, from that time, Celadon, a more savage fire has scorched me, and a sharp pain has possessed my unwilling heart. The holiday dances have given me no relief, nor the shepherds flutes, or the songs that can move stones. For as often as, in search of consolations, I have tried to sound my slender pipes and attempted to relieve my sharp anguish with their sound (whether an omen has cheated my hopes, or calamity my lips), the foreboding Muses have gloomily granted me sorrows.
CEL. And what was your particular source of pain?
MYRT. The condition of the sheep is very enviable to their masters. For though this life be harsh and filled with labor, yet no other is more scorned by the people. For they do not reflect how often we use our fingers to rub our eyes, wearied with watching, and how often the soot of the hated lamp is inhaled by our hard nostrils. O how often does the summer vex us, Corydon, and how often do the icy constellations of merciless winter vex us with their chill, and long icicles hang from our frozen beards? Often, too, we are compelled to ward off attacking wolves with our staves, and to pass long nights awake. Why should I repeat the thousand unpleasantnesses of our labors? But neither that labor, nor the bitter winter colds, nor the stars wheeling in their circles, foreboding dire diseases for the flock, trouble me as much as does the scorn of this generation now living, and the ill repute that weighs on us more heavily than all manner of diseases. Unless these things tormented me, Corydon, no cold would trouble me, nor the baleful suns of the summer light, whether the cruel Fates would command me to lead my flocks to the icy climes of Borysthenes Wain, or through the deserts of Ethiopia, bereft of settlers.
COR. Myrtilus, this same opinion which grips you in your late years once held me, a youth, nor did the care of my flock, nor my pipes give me pleasure, nor did the leading of my heifers to clover, after the manner of shepherds, until a better reasoning, heaven-descended, removed my error and drove off the dull shadows. And now my mind, scorning envys complaints, is settled, and has learned to grow mild amidst small things. Nor do the insults of a rash tongue scar me, nor the vulgar licence of the chattering people. But now you should not rue the flock, nor this song, though the livelihood in these things be meager. Fair Daphnis too tended Iberian sheep. When he had not yet laid eyes on Palestines fields and the shores of the Red Sea, the horned shepherd of Isaacs children tended his flock along the streams of the Nile. And the god of poets himself is believed once to have tended Pheres cattle, the author of our song. And, if I recall, you father, while he saw the light, was the warden of a poor flock himself. He governed his sheep not far from the land infested by the marshes where the birds declared savage wars against the Pygmies. Why should I recall the others? Kings too have loved flocks.
MYRT. You speak the truth, nor does the opinion of the ancients escape me, how much honor was given the flock, and the keeper of the flock. But what boots it that our kind were held in honor? Or, after long centuries, what help is it to their wretched progeny that the golden realms of Saturn once existed?
CEL. But it behooves us to give an ear to salubrious counsels, not to ponder smooth arguments in our minds. Often a vain greed for unwholesome praise has carried away a man seeking the tracks of the simple right. For a harsh fortune does not begrudge us our affairs, that we should be a tale for a trivial tongue, nor has the shepherds life deserved seeming contemptible. But the constant disrepute of ancient blame and the false opinion of the crazy people harms us. For just now, when the barking one invaded our fields, that horrible dog hiding in the caves of the Hesperides (I know not who he was — many have said he was the three-shaped monster wont to bark by Cocytus streams, dragged once more into the light by the hands of Hercules), bringing with him I know not what companions from the Tiber, belonging to Lycaons race, and placed them in charge of our fields. Their dress was simple, their covering feigned, but only upon their faces sat this crafty simplicity, the mother of a mask of honesty. The color of their faces was palled, and, as a badge of their ancient parents, they bore a full moon upon their sterile heads. Their beards were shorter than their eyebrows, for the razor always scraped the grown hairs from their lips. But the shape of their heads was the opposite of ours — if somebody took away their horses, he could paint them as polar bears. They were not schooled to care for their flock or to feed them, nor skilled at singing tunes or engaging in singing-matches, but to shear the frightened sheep and expose it, denuded of its extorted fleece, to the icy winter winds. Hence the old infamy of this ancient guilt places a blot even on undeserving shepherds. Add that there is a fault in our shepherds, of whom a portion was previously accustomed to warm ovens and to doing the Lemnian gods handiwork, or to committing Ceres to the soil, or to whistling at their carts, or fitting supple shoes to feet. Yet now (alas) they have suddenly cropped up, their hoes abandoned, and have tried to ape the tender voices of shepherds, when they have no understand of what the reed or pipe can accomplish, or what grasses are fit for feeding cattle. Yet you will often see them, relying on no art, celebrating a festival in the company of the Hamadryad maidens, and bleating a wretched song on a strident straw. Such a man was Corydon, Corydon the whelp of Amyntas, whom you know to have abandoned the task of his fathers plow and the goads with which he used to prod cattle. And now he grazes his sheep at the pastures of neighboring Nisus. And why do we still admire the tunes of ancient bards? Because the Curetes, who are said to have been born of raindrops, filled their resounding temples with the noise of shaken rattles, and because Tages, born from an Etruscan plow, delighted the peoples ears with his learned talk, when the men who were just recently were children of the curved plough dares mock shepherds distinguished verses, and can scarce produce songs worthy of a river-frog? O wretched the nannies who have such a shepherd! Myrtilus, they do not understand the shepherds tasks, nor how to mix juice of fragrant acanthus with celery, but to shear the mangled sheep under the constellation of Orion. Nor, should it again invade our fields, could they ward off the Hesperian Hydra from their sheepfolds, nor frighten the ravening wolves, nor withstand the cold. Why? Because until now other men are damaging the good name of shepherds, to whom sheep are only welcome offerings for their wallets, who, though they have been wont to best the Ionian Sirens and song and delight their flocks, and to feed them, yet when they have taken the fleece and gotten rich, have immediately fallen silence, and their flutes hang silent on the greeny oak. Such was the god Aius among the ancient Etruscans, who, when he was accustomed to dwell miserably in fields and forests, and experience the fires of the sun and the chills of the winter, gave many a response to the folk who consulted him; but when they put him, proud, in a marble temple, he straightway fell silent, having acquired his riches. Hence it comes about, Myrtilus, that they scorn our songs, and even utter insults to the undeserving greenwoods.
MYRT. O Celadon, the common folk to not commit these wrongs alone, that they scorn songs of an unschooled voice (such as Amyntas-born Corydon might sing, for whom sounds only a flute made of rude hemlock stalks, and who always delights himself with the same tune), or others whose hearts are surrounded with chill blood, and all of whose works are rejected by a hostile Phoebus), but even if a man sings the same songs with which Orpheus is thought once to have moved the Ismarian beasts and stones, or those songs which the Dircaean bard once sang to the stones by the glades of great Aracynthus, or yet if he bested with song the swans of the river, yet his songs will not sway the rustic nymphs. For I have often seen, when Tityrus himself called to her, that Amaryllis hid herself silent in the woods, and had no care for his measures, nor to enter the dances as she was bidden, and even hurled insults at the Muses she heard.
CEL. Thus shrubbery has no concern for the nannies with their distended udders, nor fish for the air, nor the grass-fed bull for honey,. Nor do sheep yearn for Syrian amomus, nor know to how to prefer roses to thistles, nor strawberries to broom, nor do the fruitless tamarisks know how to bear apples. Flinty rocks do not bear corn, nor does Bacchus juice cover rough thornbrakes with its purple clusters. Thus shepherds songs do not captivate Amaryllis, nor has she love for their reeds. It is enough if Phyllis likes them. Phyllis likes reeds, to her a singing shepherds tunes are welcome. As long as Phyllis likes songs, I will not be ashamed to blow my shepherds reeds, nor join the pipes (slender though they be) to my lips. Cease to say more. Now Phoebus is casting his rays more kindly, and is visiting Tethys western waters.
XXVIII. AN ECLOGUE: THE COMPLAINT OF KINGS COLLEGE
It was summer, and the middle of the day, at the time Phoebus dwelt in the constellation of Astraea and Atlas Maia, when two shepherds, Meliboeus, the elder, and Aegon, were stretched out and leaving their imprints on the grass of a lawn. Around them, having followed their pipes and the urging breezes, strayed the horned bellwethers and ignoble commoners of the flock, with hunger encouraging their placid work, and with frequent munches they cropped the helpless grass. While they attempted to cheat the protracted sunlight, their talk was not about the flock, but the tales of love they were wont to tell, and not betray secrets to the forests, which would blab, they recounted the old complaints of the nymphs and the Dryads: how first, while maddened Io was making her plaint through manifold fields, and made ready to express her sorrow in words, how she filled the air with her protracted bellows, and how with bitter words his Saturnian consort chided Jove, who often pursued bowers and nymphs, and, mixing in her reproaches, threw all Olympus into turmoil. Next, with what words the son of Oebalus, transformed into a black flower, cast blame on his careless lover as he died, the unhappy lad, and how, at the time of the new springtide, with his flower he broods on his ancient complaints. They sang of Narcissus, as he scorned all the Dryads, how the nymphs, seeking a marriage in vain, had the gods as their avengers. They told what Echo said to the mountains, when she often spoke of her unrequited love, nor did they keep silent about Procris, wounded by the point of a spear as she hoped to uncover her husbands suspected amours. To these they joined Phyllis, weeping by the banks of the chill Strymon, as she gave birth to the ardors for her new guest, and how the Naiads came from their silent caves to console her as she disturbed their waters with her moan. Neither tears, nor realms, nor cities, nor reverence for her fathers scepters had the power to call her back. Thus much unreasonable sorrow inflames lovers. Taking turns, they whiled away their time with their tales, when, joining new things to these ancient ones, Aegon added this.
AEG. As often as I recall these things, Meliboeus, whether you think them invented, or whether they be the gullible lies of poets (for any sorrowful things touch the mind), I discover something which is able to affect our senses and draw tears from an unwilling heart. And also, while I sing these things, often spontaneous tears slide secretly down my face as I speak. But neither the ardors of the Dryads nor of Phyllis, nor the riverine nymphs lamenting on the bank move me as Telethus lately did by the waves of the Granta, she whose father, now an old man, sired by the nymph Polymetis, when he possessed the fields at the oceans border. Her father did not sire her to sully her virginal hands with Minervas spindles and baskets, or to card wool with a comb, or weave standing fabrics with a shuttle, but he taught her to pass her life in gentle studies there where with its stream Cam cuts through the damp fields. And now she could seem a member of the Muses, had she not pined with an unworthy love of Daphnis. Lately, when I came to the river for fishing, I heard her tearfully casting such words to the unhearing banks, and I also marked the tears and groans with which she unhappily filled the ponds and fields, as she chanced to be lamenting the straying loves of Daphnis, of Daphnis whom the Fates had given her for a husband.
“You, o gliding currents of the horned Cam, you who have so often heard the Muses striking the air with a song, and the notes and sonorous quill of the cittarn, not yet celebrated in songs along familiar waters, you who see Phoebus singing in the morning and in the evening, and you, Ceres, whose divinity is no small thing in our fields, and you, Muses of Pegasus spring, divinities of learned men, you whom I have worshipped, you with whom I now consort, though unbidden, hear these mournful words of my grief, provoked by the cruel deeds of my unworthy consort. Am I speaking? Or are these words destined to pass through your ears? And I admit I deserved such a man, for I took him first in my ignorance, and gladly placed him in my bower when he was dwelling in forests and inhospitable fields. Yet he regarded me with a harsh aye, the ingrate, and, the Muses scorned along with his spouse, ah far away he consorts with the unspeakable loves of the Dryads. There he either pursues the hare with hounds, or deer with a spear, driving the timid stags into his nets, and late in the evening brings back his undeserving quarry. Or, probing places shaggy with woodland thornbrakes, he lazily enjoys sleep on shady turf. O how often I have said Here, Daphnis, by the glassy waters you can join me in watching the singing Sisters if it please you, and sometimes blow the resonant pipes? For you, I myself will weave gentle ivy and floral gifts, the Muses will bestow laurel on you as you sing. The cruel man cared nought for my entreaties and reproaches, nor to listen to balanced measures, nor to speak verses. O how often the divine Lebethrides, when they wished to lead you in their peaceful caves, called you with such an address, as you were seeking lairs and unlovely bogs: Come hither, Daphnis, and approach our caverns. Whither are you fleeing, ah, you madman? Our songs are always sweet, the ones Jove-born Apollo sang on earth, and the leafy laurels ever produce thick shade. Nor is the tender grass thirsty, the nourishing liquid falling from above waters the loves of earth and sun, and makes the ground fruitful with happy grass. Here too there are streams you can taste in midsummer, always running with shimmering waters. From heaven, urn-bearing Orion has poured these for us. Whither are you fleeing? Anxious grief dwells only in the fields. He for his part rudely refused with a hoarse mutter, and was swept off to hide in woodland shadow. Neither tears nor songs could recall Daphnis, nor, no matter how much they desired, could the Muses, who attempted all things. Yet why should he scorn my love so? I have for a dowry two hundred acres of ground which my father once left me as a marriage-gift, and many things which my mother sent me in secret, all of which this rapacious man may now keep for himself. Nor is my appearance unhappy, such as might deter lovers. I am said to be the fairest among the Boeotian nymphs. Although now in my affliction my neglected face grows stiff, and perhaps naughty Phoebus has discolored my unprotected temples as I wander and pursue your footsteps, yet lately a swart color did not mark my face. Then too, while I lived celibate with no husband, countless suitors sought me, and I could have sought them in return. And when Daphnis first set his snares for me, as I pretended to flee, I recall how his sideways glance often followed my face with its eyes. What of the fact I am descended from choice royal blood? Happy, o very happy me, had I never made such a marriage! In its wounded condition my mind is savage. But you, Pierian Muses, the consolations of my sorrow (you whom it pleased to dwell by the Cams cool ponds and streams, abandoning the waters of ancient Phocis), what will it profit me to have tended your labors with zeal, I who, great, am called by the word The Kings, if cruel Daphnis robs my joys and no day sees me free of tears, either when the evening star, glittering at night, summons the pitch-black shadows, or when the morning star lifts its head above the waters that give it birth? Saddened, with a murmur the river caught her final words and eddied its astonished waves more gently. And even the twiggy willows were seen to bend themselves with a friendly nod and touch the river with their branches, as if in their sadness they wished to weep tears for her pain. But I, taking pity then on the nymphs bitter lot, could scarce restrain myself from bearing witness with my speech to the sorrows I had overheard, a traitor to myself and my emotion, and from remarking with my words the cruel deeds of Daphnis.
MEL. Not only in your case, Aegon, are breasts plunged into solicitous feelings, or sympathetic hearts take on grief. We are all moved by tears and moaning. Often Telethusa has moved me too with her plaints, and drawn tears from my inexperienced eyes. And I remember how lately she wandered alone through vacant fields, and, sobbing, called upon gods and men. And I have not only observed the nymphs tears and groans. I have witnessed how, when overcome by rages and savage sorrow, she recently made a fruitless trial of the magical arts, as I chanced to be keeping watch over my flocks and pastures by night. There is a place always evilly situated in dark shadow, which the uncouth reveals with a monstrous cleft. I know not what ghosts are thought to dwell there. The locals have pronounced the cave sacred to ghosts. Hither, while dewy Night went a-roving in her pitch-black car, Telethusa approached, bringing along her like-minded sister, letting loose her hair, and baring the breast, and with words such as these she attempted to sway the ghosts she had bound by oath.
Bear witness to me, Phoebe, and ye golden lights of heaven which make the world stand still with your striving, ye, ye snow-white ghosts and souls of the pious, all ye gods and goddesses who have a care for concord, gird you unwilling minds for the magical arts. But ye, o Dire Ones who give due rewards for crimes, and ye goddesses of vengeance whom they say dwell here, ye you instill cares, chill fears, ravening pains, and dark horror in fearful minds, hear these prayers. Greedy Daphnis has stolen my joys, and is waging suits and squabbles against me. Do not just visit him with avenging punishment, but (unless the gods forbid) divorce him from my side. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. Take up the water, my sister, and sprinkle round the tears of warm water. And recite the songs which we made up just now when the Titan was pallid, scarcely at his first rising, as you thrice stand still, and do not look backward (often an ignorant man has interrupted a reader, when he shifted his glance). I shall assay the arts of Thessaly (for what have I accomplished with tears?) while the hidden sun provides us darkness, while it gives light to the lands on the worlds far side, and the stars wink out, aping sweet slumber. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. As the wolf pursues helpless lambs with its fangs and snatches (ah!) their mothers bleating joys, thus Daphnis has lately despoiled me of my pledges. And as the hound whom Sirius vexes with its dire heat is driven insanely rabid, and is swept throughout the city, with its bite attacking everything it passes, out of its mind, so Daphnis rabidly steals everything. Thus (unless the Fates refuse) let the all-accomplishing gods steal him from me, and me from him, or (if the Fates forbid) may they fetch him back, though he seeks out the marshes. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. As the hedgehog, armed with spines, lurks in the woods when he chances to be harried from the rear by keen hounds, so my Daphnis seeks out hiding-places and reposes. Daphnis adores the greenwood, and, hidden in the shade of groves, he does I know not what. But we lovers fear everything. So, ye goddesses of vengeance, harry him, hiding in his lurking-places and greenwoods, and confront him with fear of the night and visions representing dire shapes of pitch-black body, so that the rascal may flee from the shadows he now adores. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. Supple willow is good for sheep, a growth of hartwort for deer, creeping ivy for bars, yellow arum with its two-colored leaves for languishing bears, the grass of Cortyn heals injured goats. But if faithless Daphnis is not compelled to abandon me, henceforth no medicine will make me well. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. Take the steel in your hands, sister, and with it strike thrice the oak you see on your left, breaking up the skys rays and its light (Daphnis always adores oaks and hardwoods, he always spurns laurels and streams, and wantonly pursues the amours of the Dryads). Do this to the oak, bare of its leaves and hard bark: fell it to the ground, lop of its greeny boughs with their branches, trampling it underfoot without cease. And as you trample it, add this besides: As this oak is felled and denuded of the honor of its green foliage, from its boughs it produces no branches, nor any shade from its branches, thus Daphnis will also be despoiled of all his honor. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. Leave off, sister, that is enough. An easy vengeance satisfies happy spirits. Rather, sit with me under this elm. And while you sitk, join me in smearing your face with black soot. Tomorrow well cleanse ourselves in Avon’s warm waters. It pleases me to await the gods responses and the outcome of this affair here beneath this cave, while with his sluggish windings the snake, surpassing five feet in length, circles around the motionless pole. Set free the new bonds of my marriage, set free Daphnis. Ah, what am I doing? We have attempted the magic arts in vain. No beasts have moaned, nor have the quivering leaves on the trees sounded as the treetop was stricken, nor have our fearful lamps failed at the gods approach, or any voice offered us responses through the swift breezes. Unhappy me, am I being abandoned to these evils, if all my tears, my words, my arts, or these incantations, so often repeated, avail me nought, all these incantations we have sung to the heedless gods?”
Telethusa vainly poured forth such things beneath the dark cavern, watering her eyes with many a tear, attempting to capture Daphnis mind with her singing. All of which I have preserved, inscribing it on the bark of a stiff beech tree, the tunes of her voice and the measures of her address.
These things they sang under sunless shade, next to the waters of the babbling stream, and protracted the failing day with their lengthy converse, until Meliboeus, seeing that a few stars dared show themselves by their fires, the sun banished, and raising his limbs from the green grass he had damaged, said “Tomorrow we shall sing of the rest, which is better, Agon, when a happier Aurora has arisen, and has returned day to the earth, and vigor to our spirits.”
XXIX. TO LOVE
If indeed the heavens adore thee,
If indeed kind Venus bore thee,
If Jove’s nectar is thy wine,
And ambrosia divine
Is the food that’s found for thee,
Tell me, boy, how can it be
That day and night thou art with me?
Why thy vanquish’d suppliant still
Eager with thy brand to kill?
Why with tears long thirst deceive,
And upon our marrow will live?
Seed of fell beasts, fierce and wild,
Of grim Styx the true-born child,
Since a fitting shade we are,
Wherefore thus incessant war?
XXX. TO THE READER
It is not rude abuse, nor envy’s bark,
Nor empty noise, nor any harsher mark
I am afraid of, nor that I should seem
In my own judgment of such high esteem
As to be faultless, but that I should feel
Myself ridiculous, equipp’d so ill
That to my works no mind of weight and power
Should care to turn aside and pluck a flower.
This I should rue indeed — for what fond man
Would try to wash an Ethiopian?